Wisconsin's women’s hockey team bounced back in definitive fashion Sunday afternoon at LaBahn Arena, downing North Dakota 4-1 and earning a weekend split after a disappointing loss on Saturday.
The Badgers made clear they wanted Saturday’s outing to be an anomaly, not the rule as they convincingly rebounded and dominated for three periods. They controlled the puck and flow of play throughout the game. The NoDak forecheck that seemed to confound the Wisconsin defense on Saturday was less of an issue for the defense Sunday, as clearing passes was crisper and more definitive, and the entire team played with more determination and confidence.
North Dakota came into Sunday undefeated when scoring first, and it put the first points on the board, scoring on a long shot from Finnish National Michelle Karvinen just 3:55 into the game. It didn’t look promising for Wisconsin early, as the Badgers managed just five shots on goal in the first period. There had been concerns on where the scoring would come from this season. Though much of that had been put to rest early in the season, doubts started to creep in as the first period ended.
But the Badgers decided not to let history repeat itself.
Blayre Turnbull evened the score as the second period began on a pretty play that ended with her going five-hole on Shelby Amsley-Benzie. Turnbull was the spark for the whole play when she stole the puck on defense and brought it the length of the ice. There was a flurry of passes and shots that ended with Turnbull lighting the lamp.
The goal seemed to give Wisconsin a spark and the tone of the game changed. Instead of playing defensively, the Badgers went on offense. Six minutes later, Brittany Ammerman fed Katarina Zgraja a beauty of a pass. Zgraja broke past two defenders for an open skate on net. Her shot was blocked, but Katy Josephs put the rebound home to make it 2-1.
The goal was reviewed for a long time. In the end, North Dakota’s Lisa Marvin was called for slashing on a delayed penalty and the goal was allowed.
Wisconsin’s freshmen have been a major force this season, and they made their presence especially known on Sunday.
Sarah Nurse’s short-handed goal just past midway in the second really seemed to put the victory on ice for Wisconsin. She nabbed a loose puck off a defensive zone face-off, then showed some wheels to out-skate everyone down the ice. She finished it off with a backhand to make it 3-1 and allow the Badgers some breathing room.
From there, it was Ann-Renée Desbiens, who made 29 saves, including one on a 2-0 rush that will be on her personal highlight reel for a long time to come. She rebounded well from Saturday’s loss and really led the defensive stand.
Turnbull added her second goal of the game (10th of the season) on an empty-netter and the Badgers were able to end the weekend on a positive note and salvage the split.
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