The Wisconsin women’s hockey team ended its home-opening weekend in a dramatic fashion, tying the Ohio State University Buckeyes 1-1 in regulation, before winning the game in an overtime shootout.
The Badgers (3-0-1, 1-0-1 WCHA) started off Saturday’s contest in a much less aggressive approach than Friday’s, and with far fewer penalties acquired by either team. The Badgers and the Buckeyes (2-1-1, 0-1-1 WCHA) were so evenly matched that the first goal was not scored until 12 minutes into the second period, when Ohio State would manage to slide a puck past Wisconsin goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens.
The Badgers would take some time to rally from that goal, but it seemed to motivate them all the same. Wisconsin played harder and better than they did during the first period of play. Still, the majority of the third period elapsed without the Badgers netting a goal.
This new motivation is something that Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson is looking for in his team, and he was satisfied with the results that he saw on the ice, even if they didn’t necessarily finish with the desired outcome.
“After [Ohio State] scored, we got better,” Johnson said. “We responded and we had a couple great chances to finish out the second period. We did a great job of killing, we didn’t give them anything. It was a matter of were we going to score or not.”
It seemed as if the No. 1 Badgers would be handed their first loss of the season. UW was still trailing the Buckeyes 0-1 well into the third period before a penalty by Ohio State’s Lauren Boyle allowed Wisconsin to go on a much needed power play. This power play gave sophomore forward Sam Cogan the chance to tie the game up 1-1 with 1:51 left in the period.
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The Badgers survived a scoreless five-minute overtime before taking the ice for one final push in the shootout. Wisconsin’s Abby Roque was the only player who managed to find the net, and her score gave Wisconsin the edge as the victors of the afternoon.
This weekend stretch was UW’s sole week at home for the rest of October, and the Badgers now begin a three-week road stretch. During this stint, Wisconsin will see the likes of Clarkson University, the University of North Dakota, and Minnesota State University–Mankato. As short as it was, this time at home was still critically beneficial to Johnson, as it allows him to identify things that the team did well, while also helping him to identify areas for improvement.
“You’re looking for little things early in the season,” Johnson said. “I think our effort was strong, and we’re looking to build on that.”
Despite the incredibly high expectations for the Badgers this season, the squad has yet to disappoint and will look to remain undefeated in the approaching road trips. Johnson and Desbiens have the team in a confident place, but the season is still young, and the next few weeks will be a big test to see what the potential for the Badgers truly is.