In the first border battle of the 2019-20 season, the No. 2 University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team (10-1-1, 4-1-1 WCHA) lost the series to the No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-1-1, 6-1-1). The series was long and hard fought with the Badgers surging forth in the second leg of the matchup in order to secure a tie on their record.

The Gophers opened the series with a 4–2 victory over the Badgers despite finding themselves behind in the matchup early on. Forward Daryl Watts opened up scoring for the Badgers in the sixth minute of the first period with assists by Abby Roque and Sophie Shirley.

While the Gophers took took their time to respond, respond in force they did. Each team remained scoreless for over 20 minutes following Watts’ goal before Minnesota decisively took the lead. Two goals — scored within two minutes of each other — from Minnesota’s Sarah Potomak and Grace Zumwinkle gave the Gophers a leg up roughly midway through the second period.

The Badgers failed to gain a foothold in the game throughout the rest of the second and third periods. The Gophers added an additional two goals early in the third period, effectively ensuring their victory in the first half of the border battle. Presley Norby scored in the last five minutes of the game, but it was too little too late for the Badgers.

Perhaps the most important factor in the Badgers’ first loss of the season was an uncharacteristically poor performance from senior goalkeeper Kristen Campbell. Campbell allowed a total of four goals on just 17 shots on target, accruing a save rate of only 65%.

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Despite their failures, the Badgers still had another shot at redemption as they prepared for Sunday’s matchup against the Gophers. While the Badgers stayed in contention for the entirety of the game this time, the result wasn’t much better.

The Gophers jumped out to an early lead in the first period with a goal from Taylor Heise. Much like the first matchup of the series, scoring would slow down for a significant period of time after the opening goal. Neither team managed to put any more points on the board until Wisconsin’s Britta Curl scored the Badgers’ first goal of the game.

Both the Gophers and the Badgers would score one more goal before the end of the period, knotting the game up at 2–2. Two overtime periods later, the competitors remained deadlocked, forcing a decisive shootout to end the game. 

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While the last matchup of the first border battle officially goes on each team’s record as a tie, the Gophers defeated the Badgers in the ensuing shootout. This no doubt added a certain sting to the end of the series despite the fact that it had no implications on the record of either team.

After defeating the Gophers last year to claim the national title, the Badgers certainly had a target on their back all throughout the off-season. The Gophers came to play, and with their victories they jumped the Badgers to takeover the No. 1 spot in national rankings. There exists little doubt that the Badgers have the next border battle, this time at LaBahn Arena, circled on their calendars.