The Wisconsin Badgers (11-1-0, 5-1-0 WCHA) swept an away series this weekend against the Minnesota State Mavericks (4-5-1, 2-5-1 WCHA) which put Wisconsin’s defensive abilities in the spotlight. Unlike much of the season up to this point, the Badgers did not rely strictly on outscoring their opponents in order to achieve a sweep.
Holding the Mavericks to just one goal over the entire weekend, the Badger’s defense put on its best performance in a series up to this point in the season. Prior to this set of games, Wisconsin had allowed a minimum of two goals combined over each two-game series they played.
But in these instances in which the Badgers allowed a total of two goals for the weekend, they outscored their opponents by a larger margin than they did the Mavericks. For example, in their first series of the year, the Badgers allowed two cumulative goals to the Lindenwood Lions but managed to score an astounding nine goals in just two games to sweep the series.
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Undoubtedly, in these past dominating performances, the Badgers had the ability to allow more goals to their opponent and still come away with a victory due to their high-powered offense. This was not the case against the Mavericks.
Winning Friday’s game 2–1 and Saturday’s 2–0, the Badgers failed to outscore the Mavericks in as impressive a fashion as they have for much of this season. In fact, the only instance prior to this weekend’s series that the Badgers were held to less than three goals in a game was their 0–1 loss to Minnesota.
Goaltender Kristen Campbell was the driving force behind the Badger’s necessary defensive effort throughout this past series, as she managed to save all but one of the 32 shots that were thrown her way by the Mavericks. This save percentage of nearly 97 percent was the highest recorded by any NCAA goalie over the weekend, and Campbell’s performance was impressive enough to earn her WCHA goaltender of the week.
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Also putting on a strong performance for the Badgers during their sweep of Minnesota State was Mekenzie Steffen. Steffen managed to tally an assist on three of the four goals scored during the weekend. Ironically enough, this offensive clinic earned her WCHA defenseman of the week.
With an uncharacteristically low-scoring yet successful weekend against the Mavericks, the Badgers maintained their No.1 ranking in the NCAA. Despite this, the Badgers remain tied for second in WCHA season standings with Ohio State. Fortunately, Wisconsin will have a chance to improve their clout within the WCHA as they take on Bemidji State at LaBahn Arena this weekend.