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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Women’s hockey: Badgers drop Huskies to move onto WCHA Final Face-Off

Thomas Cawrse/Badger Herald

For the fifth year in a row, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team advanced to the WCHA Final Face-Off.

With a packed arena and the pep-band at full volume, the Badgers (26-6-4) delivered an onslaught of offensive power, putting up two first period goals on St. Cloud State Saturday night on the way to a win and a series sweep of the Huskies in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

After a 5-0 triumph Friday night in game one, game two ended with a final score of 4-1 in favor of Wisconsin, sending the team to its fifth consecutive appearance in the semifinals of the WCHA tournament.


After Minnesota State-Mankato took UW to a decisive third game a season ago in the first round playoffs, Wisconsin came out strong both nights in the commanding wins.

“I thought our energy was good,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “We were creating some good, quality chances unlike last Friday when we weren’t able to get the puck past the goaltender. Players were driving through the center of the ice and there were some good connections, some nice, aggressive passes.”

Friday night’s game started out well for the Badgers, as they scored four first period goals.

Through almost 10 minutes of the first period, it looked as if things would not fall for the Badgers that night. Despite peppering the Huskies star-goalie Julie Friend with 14 shots to that point, and many of them quality chances, nothing was getting past Friend until Sarah Nurse acted instinctively.

“[McKibbon] won the faceoff quickly and I saw three people coming at me,” Nurse, the sophomore forward, said. “I just had to get [the shot] off as fast as I could, I was just trying to hit the net.”

On that offensive-zone faceoff, fellow sophomore Sydney McKibbon won the draw and then sent the puck back into Nurse’s vicinity at the top of the left circle. With two defensemen rushing her, she fired a one-timer into the upper right corner of the net. If the puck was even just a few centimeters over to the right, it would have rung off the post and out.

“The key is to win the faceoff,” Johnson said. “When you win it cleanly, the other team has a tough time defending. You’re going to get a shot, it’s just whether it’s a good shot in a good spot. There aren’t many goalies that are going to stop that shot. That was a laser.”

The floodgates opened at that point and Wisconsin would tally three more goals in the period, adding one last on in the final 20 minutes of the game to bring their tally to five.

There was an air of confidence surrounding the coaches and players that night that led into Saturday, where the team continued its display of dominance over a relatively helpless St. Cloud State team that got outshot 103-29.

Mikayla Johnson, head coach Mark Johnson’s daughter and an unusual scorer, opened up Wisconsin’s offensive spurt less than seven minutes into the game Saturday night, putting a smile on the face of her father as he watched from the bench.

That smile would grow even bigger as the night continued and Johnson watched his team control the game with ease.

With three seconds remaining in the first period, Emily Clark crashed the net and sent a wrist shot at Friend, who got a pad on it but left a big rebound. Clark continued her stride and then sent snap shot far post before Friend could cover the puck to put UW up 2-0.

The team’s energy, something Johnson has been stressing for weeks, was quite visible throughout the full three periods.

“It’s a nice feeling going into each period with the lead,” said Turnbull. “We keep the momentum that way and we stay energized. It’s helpful when we have a good start.”

With the Huskies trailing 3-0 late in the third period, Molly Illikainen sent a fluke goal past UW goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens as a centering pass was stopped just in front of the net, creating a scrum. Desbiens, unable to see the puck, dove into the scrum while the puck squeaked out to the side of the net and to a waiting Illikainen, who hammered home the opportunity, to cut the Badgers’ lead to two with nine minutes left in regulation.

The Badgers would, however, respond within a minute of play. Turnbull coasted her way in on net and sent a wrist-shot flying past Friend’s glove hand at the 12:03 mark.

“After you get scored on, that next shift is crucial,” Johnson said. “Obviously they pick up a bit of momentum by scoring a goal, they get excited. But if you come back and respond, even with just a strong shift, you can settle the game down.”

The two wins meant a sweep for Wisconsin over St. Cloud State and a trip to Grand Forks, N.D. to face North Dakota, an unfortunate luck of the draw. UND has knocked Wisconsin out of the WCHA tournament for the past two years, and now the Badgers must play the third-seed on their home ice and in a playoff atmosphere.

“We really want to win,” senior forward Katy Josephs said. “It’s not an option for us to lose this year … Playing North Dakota away is always fun. They have their band who really heckles you, but we’re working on ourselves. We’re really focusing on our game and not worrying too much about those external things, that is what we’re focusing on.”

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