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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Unlucky 13: Two losses over weekend brings losing streak to 13 against Gophers

Jason Chan

As the Minnesota bench rushed the ice in jubilation, a heavy sense of dread and disappointment began to set in around LaBahn Arena Saturday afternoon, all too familiar for the top-ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team.

Badgers’ sophomore goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens slowly skated back to her teammates on the bench, her head drooping and staring at the ice. Only seconds before, she stood helpless in net as a turnover in the Badgers’ defensive zone led to a Gophers’ rush headed by senior Rachel Ramsey. Ramsey took the puck from a UW defender on the far boards and passed to two uncovered, streaking Gopher forwards on the far side. Junior Hannah Brandt received the pass and set up sophomore Dani Cameranesi for a one-timer, which was initially saved by Desbiens, but the rebound trickled across the face of the net to the trailing Ramsey who put home the overtime game-winner.

With the victory, the No. 2 Gophers (5-0-1 overall, 3-0-1 WCHA) earned the series sweep and knocked off Wisconsin (6-2-0, 4-2-0) for the 13th time.


UW head coach Mark Johnson didn’t blame the loss on the team’s play or any of its players, just stating the inevitable fact that sometimes things don’t bounce in the right direction.

“Today was good, there was a bunch of opportunities,” Johnson said. “We had an opportunity in overtime that hit the post. You can call it a game of inches, and sometimes it is.”

In a game in which the penalty box saw more action than the goal lights, all signs pointed to the game ending in a dramatic fashion. In total, the two teams served 26 minutes of penalties combined, with Wisconsin totaling seven penalties for 14 of those minutes. It seemed that neither side could stay out of the box, which surprisingly didn’t stop the Badgers from establishing a rhythm.

The play went back and forth with each team spending significant time in their offensive zones mixed with the Badgers breaking out on occasional counter-attacks. Gophers’ junior goaltender Amanda Leveille stood on her head making several brilliant saves to keep her team in the game. She finished with 40 saves in total, allowing only one goal and surviving a shot ricocheting off the post in overtime in the Badgers’ final offensive rush.

The Badgers broke through midway in the second period on a power-play goal scored by sophomore Sarah Nurse at the 7:34 mark in the period. Having spent the day crashing the net and looking for redirections while creating scrums in front of Leveille, which led to many loose pucks in dangerous situations, Wisconsin finally scored a goal.

After a shot by sophomore Mellissa Channell from the point, freshman Emily Clark found the puck and sent it back towards the net. Leveille made the save while a Badger and Gopher tangled in front of her but sent the rebound across the net and slid in the opposite direction, leaving the goal open. Nurse sent a one-timer snapshot into the empty net to put UW up 1-0.

It seemed as if the goal would stand to give the Badgers the win, but in a game dominated by penalties it was only a matter of time before a mistake was made. That came when freshman forward Baylee Wellhausen took a hooking penalty at 16:51 in the third period for the Badgers. On the ensuing power-play, Gophers’ forward senior Rachael Bona ripped a top-shelf wrist shot past Desbiens with 1:28 left in the game to knot things up at 1-1. The excitement from the Badgers crowd, felt through most of the game, suddenly vanished and an uneasiness began to set in.

Johnson rallied his players as they finished out the third period without a hitch and began overtime well until falling with only a minute remaining.

Despite the tough loss, Johnson pointed to a lot of positives that came from the game.

“The important thing is we played hard and we played well today … we can take a lot of things out of here and we became a better team than what we showed yesterday,” Johnson said. “I was pleased and I was happy with the way we planned, and the effort was there today.”

However, Johnson and his team are already past the loss and looking forward to Friday’s game at Bemidji State, taking one game at a time.

“We’re just getting ready to go Friday up in Bemidji,” Johnson said when asked about how the losses would affect the teams trip to Minneapolis later in the season.

Friday’s game wasn’t nearly as close, but again a few bounces ultimately turned the tide in the Gophers’ favor. 

A goal with less than a second left in the first period put the Badgers behind 3-1, a deficit Wisconsin could not overcome.

That pivotal goal came from junior Milica McMillen after Minnesota won an offensive zone face-off with just 5.7 seconds left in the period. The original shot got redirected to McMillen in front of the goal, and she then shot the puck over Badgers’ Desbiens, who was on her back in the crease.

The Gophers had opened up the scoring just six minutes into the game when Brandt turned a Badger turnover on the power play into a breakaway goal.

Minnesota’s lead did not last long though.

Less than two minutes later, senior Karley Sylvester tied up the game on a goal with assists from junior Courtney Burke and senior Blayre Turnbull, right as UW’s power play was ending.

But less than a minute later at the 9:34 mark, Minnesota responded with a goal of its own when Cameranesi connected on what would be the first of her two goals on the night.

Despite Minnesota scoring two first period goals, Desbiens ignited the crowd with her aggressive play in net throughout the game. She totaled 22 total saves, including one in which she skated out to the Badgers’ blue line.

On that play, Minnesota had an opportunity for another breakaway goal, but Desbiens attacked the puck and then saved a Minnesota shot attempt after they had the puck back in their control.

Her performance was not enough to keep Wisconsin in the game, as the Badgers could not get many quality shots on offense.

“They defend well, they’ve got some good defensemen,” Johnson said. “It’s difficult to get the scoring. If you’re going to be successful, you have to be willing to get yourself in those areas that are tough to get to, and we didn’t do a good job of that.”

Wisconsin did not convert on any of their six power plays, four of which came consecutively in the second period.

“We still had opportunities with more power plays in the second period,” Johnson said. “If we capitalize on even one of them, it changes the game.”

The Badgers managed to control the game in the latter portion, having more shots on goal throughout the second and third periods, after Minnesota had control for almost the entirety of the first period.

Even with the shots, Wisconsin could not convert those into any goals.

But in the face of a loss, Johnson said he believed playing a strong team this early in the season can be a learning experience for the Badgers.

“We found out things about us tonight,” Johnson said. “Our players learned about themselves, so it’s a real good learning experience. The big thing is the growth from it.”

If Wisconsin can learn things about them this early in the season, the first two losses of the season could help them grow as the season continues.

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