The top-ranked University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team earned two more commanding victories over the weekend, defeating the St. Cloud State Huskies 8–2 Friday and 3–1 Saturday to become the first team in the country to reach 18 wins.
The Badgers (19-1-0, 9-1-0 WCHA) opened Friday’s matchup with a flurry of goals in the first period. Just three minutes into the game, sophomore Caitlin Schneider delivered a quality goal after an impressive passing display from the Badgers, who would not look back from there, tallying three goals in the final five minutes of the period.
Junior Presley Norby wrapped up the first period with two goals of her own in that stretch, including a spectacular top-shelf goal from her knees after being tripped up by a Huskies defender, to give the Badgers a 4–0 advantage.
Speaking with UW Athletics after Friday’s game, Norby credited her team’s consistency in dominating first period action, something that has been a signature feature of the team this year.
“I just think we’re just trying to get better every single game and what comes along with that is just being ready to play right when the puck drops. I think we’re doing a better and better job of that every game,” Norby said.
Senior Annie Pankowski netted a pair of goals in the second period, followed by third period goals from freshman Sophie Shirley — her 11th of the season — and junior Alexis Mauermann to conclude the Badger onslaught.
Despite Friday’s offensive display, Wisconsin could not carry its momentum over to Saturday’s affair. Freshman Britta Curl scored first for the Badgers at the 5:59 mark in the first period, her 10th goal of the season, to give Wisconsin a 1–0 lead.
The Huskies (5-15-1, 2-12-0-0 WCHA) would respond with a power-play goal in the second period to even things up heading into the third.
But the Badgers, who have been in similar situations a handful of times this season, showed the St. Cloud, Minn., crowd why they are the No. 1 team in the country. Junior Mekenzie Steffen found the back of the net with just under seven minutes remaining in the third period to put the Badgers up.
Then it was Pankowski, who has delivered clutch goals for UW all season, who scored the game’s final goal — this one a power-play empty-netter — to give the Badgers a 3–1 victory and wrap up 2018 with another exciting finish.
Pankowski’s goal Saturday marks her seventh straight game with a goal, good for the third-longest streak in program history. The Badgers outshot the Huskies 49-13.
The Badgers now enter the holiday break with a .950 winning percentage. With five weeks off, Wisconsin will take advantage of some much-needed rest before kicking off 2019 with a road series against Ohio State Jan. 11-12 in Columbus, Ohio.