The Wisconsin Badgers sent themselves into their month-long exam and holiday hiatus on a high note, sweeping North Dakota and extending their win streak to 12 games. The 2-0 win was the team's ninth shutout of the season and the seventh for sophomore goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens.
"I just take one shot at a time. I don’t see it as another shutout. It’s a team effort. I think every single player has as many saves as I do," said Desbiens.
"My defense has been great so far this year. Even the forwards have done a great job coming back, back-checking and blocking shots, so it’s really a team effort. We stick to the game plan."
"I was struggling early on, not facing as many shots – I wasn’t used to it. As the season kept coming, I’ve found a way to stay focused in the game and be ready for every single one because they’re all super-important. So I just make sure I stay focused in practice and push myself," said Desbiens.
The teams took most of the first period to find their rhythms, with the puck moving between zones and both teams struggling to maintain possession, but it was the Badgers that found pay dirt a few minutes before the end of the period.
The Badgers' first goal was impressive in its simplicity. It came from a broken play on the defensive end and the Badgers took advantage and calmly passed it up ice. Redshirt senior Brittany Ammerman took the puck across the blue line and got tripped up in the circle, but didn't panic and calmly slid it across the ice and back to junior Kim Drake, who slotted it home for Wisconsin's first goal of the game.
With her assist on the first goal, Ammerman now has 125 career points and she passed Kerry Weiland on Wisconsin's all-time list.
Wisconsin began to pull away in the second period, holding possession.
The second goal came in the middle of the second period when the Badgers and North Dakota traded penalties. North Dakota failed to truly mount any sustained pressure or offense. Wisconsin kept clearing the zone. As the power play ended, freshman Maddie Rolfes got the puck up ice to senior Karley Sylvester, who was exiting the penalty box. Sylvester carried it to the net and nudged it across the crease to a waiting Baylee Wellhausen. The freshman snapped it toward the goal, deflecting off the top of North Dakota goalie Amanda Shaw's pads in to the netto make it 2-0 Badgers, her fifth goal of the season and second on the weekend.
"That’s actually one of my favorite things to do, is crash the net. The opportunity presented itself and there was space and Karley had the puck and it was an awesome pass," said Wellhausen.
Wellhausen has started to get comfortable in to her role just as the team heads on a month-long break.
"I’m getting into my position and role in the team. It’s pretty nice to not be as nervous or shaky out there. It’s nice to just settle in," she said. "I honestly think it’s a lot of mental (not losing focus over the break) – it’s a mental game. I try to take each game as a new game and hope for the best."
"It’s a good way to finish off 2014 with the last game of the year," said Badger coach Mark Johnson.
The team will practice in Madison for a week before letting the players finish finals and head home for the holidays. Desbiens and sophomore Sarah Nurse will compete with Team Canada in the 2015 Nations Cup.