MADISON - The Badgers will have to wait until early January for a chance to end a more than two year losing streak against the University of Minnesota, after they lost an overtime stunner to the Gophers Saturday afternoon.
Wisconsin bounced back after a disappointing 4-1 loss Friday night, but couldn't pull off the split despite holding a 1-0 advantage until 1:28 left in the game.
Sophomore Sarah Nurse put the Badgers on the board with a power play goal mid-way through the second period when she buried one of the many rebounds that Gopher goalie Amanda Leveille left in front of the net during the game.
But the Badgers were stung at the end of regulation when Baylee Wellhausen took a penalty with just 3:09 left in the game, giving Minnesota a power play. Gopher senior Rachel Bona scored her first of the season when she buried a shot in the far top shelf from the near point to tie the game and force overtime.
Wellhausen almost became the hero when she hit the post early in the overtime period, but it was a bad clear that bounced off a skate and the Badgers caught changing lines that left Minnesota with players up and sophomore goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens couldn't save the Badgers one last time, as Rachel Ramsey scored with 59.9 seconds left in the overtime period to give the Gophers the win.
Minnesota has now won 13 straight games against the Badgers and will take the No. 1 national ranking back this week.
Despite the loss, the Badgers recovered after a rough outing on Friday and coach Mark Johnson sees a lot to take from Saturday's game and pointed out that it's still early in the season.
"The important thing is we played hard and we played well, too. Obviously you want to win the game, but you take a lot of things out of here. We became a better team today," said Johnson. "You look at the big picture – it’s October... For 60-plus minutes, it was a real good effort. We competed hard, we played hard, we did a lot of good things – the only thing we didn’t do was win the game, which is usually the most important part."
Sophomore goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens had a career high in saves, stopping 33 Gopher shots.
After a lack-luster showing Friday night, the Badgers unveiled a new look defense on Saturday afternoon. Wisconsin made it incredibly difficult for Minnesota to even get the puck into their offensive zone. They were disruptive, they clogged the neutral zone, the broke up passes and generally made nuisances of themselves the entire game. The defense, led by senior Katarina Zgraja, blocked 10 Gopher shots.
"(The defense) committed to what they wanted to do and went out and performed at a high level and unfortunately we walk away with a bitter taste in our mouths because we didn’t win the game," said Johnson.
If the Badgers can keep that defense up, they'll be difficult to beat as the season progresses.