The Badger women's hockey team bounced back from two consecutive losses in a decisive way on Sunday afternoon as five different players scored in a 5-0 win over St. Cloud State.
After putting up just one goal on 53 shots on Friday, Wisconsin found the back of the net five times on 44 shots Sunday.
It was the sort of bounce-back the Badgers needed to close out the regular season on a high note and head into the playoffs with some confidence.
"It was a great day for us to bounce back from the loss on Friday. The girls played hard for 60 minutes and it showed, especially in the third period, not allowing them a shot...It’s crucial to come out strong and we did that today. We came out strong and we were rewarded. I think it helped having two goals in the first period and it gave them some confidence knowing that we can put the puck in the back of the net," said assistant coach Jackie Friesen.
Badger coach Mark Johnson didn't arrive at LaBahn Arena until the third period as he was returning from Hockey Weekend in America and Miracle on Ice reunions festivities in Lake Placid, so Friesen took on more of the duties.
"As they say, now it’s the second season. As you hit playoffs, everything’s wiped clean, you’re only guaranteed the next weekend of games so we kind of just take it one step at a time as we move forward," Friesen said.
Senior captain Blayre Turnbull reiterated the idea that the regular season is closed and the post-season is an entirely new situation.
“We’re all really looking forward to it. We know that it’s a brand new season. What we just did in the last regular season game is completely irrelevant going into this weekend. Friday night we know what to expect. We need to top their intensity and get ready to win," said Turnbull.
Sophomore Sarah Nurse opened the scoring when she made a quick shot from the far circle. She won the puck, turned and sniped a quick wrister and she was moving across the ice.
The second goal was a spectacular effort from Turnbull. There were several players in a scrum along the back boards fighting for the puck. Turnbull emerged with it, skated to the near circle, turned and put a shot on net from nearly perpendicular to St. Cloud goalie Katie Fitzgerald that went over her shoulder and in the net.
It was a Turnbull's sixth goal in her last five games.
These sorts of "shots with purpose" have been emphasized by Mark Johnson as the Badgers have struggled to score. Though Turnbull's shot had a low probability to score, it was likely to end up in a rebound and to give Wisconsin a chance at a second-hand goal. This particular shot happened to sneak in on it's own, but the reason she even threw that puck to net is this philosophy from Johnson.
As the Badgers had scoring struggles through the second half, Johnson has tried switching up his lines and that included
Give Turnbull much of the credit on the third goal, as well. She had the puck and ended up along the back boards jsut to the near side of Fitzgerald. She laid the puck up to redshirt senior Brittany Ammerman just in front of the crease and Ammerman finished the goal from point-blank range.
The phenomenal freshman duo of Emily Clark and Annie Pankowski connected on the fourth goal. Clark was streaking in from the far side, angling to the net and put a hard wrister on net. Fitzgerald's rebound ended up on Pankowski's stick as she crashed from the right side. It was an easy tap in for her 18th goal of the season. The goal ties Pankowksi with Boston University's Victoria Bach for most goals by a freshman this season.
Pankowksi now leads the nation in points per game as a freshman with 1.12 PPG. The numbers are all that more impressive knowing that Pankowski scored just two goals in her first 11 games. She now has 16 goals in her last 22 games and nine goals over the past nine contests.
While Johnson has changed his lines a lot this season in order to find a scoring spark, but Pankowski and Clark have pretty much always stayed together. They've worked together well since they've hit the ice and that camaraderie has proven successful.
"I think we have a lot of good chemistry and I think we complement each other really well," said Clark.
Clark scored one of her own to close up the game when she took a chipped puck from freshman Baylee Wellhausen into the zone and crashed the net with it. It was a nice display of skating and puck handling as Clark worked around the St. Cloud defense
St. Cloud managed just 10 shots in the game, including none in the final period. It was the 27th time in program history that the Badgers have held a team without a shot in the period. The last time was in 2011 against Lindenwood.
Sophomore goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens tallied her 13th shutout of the season - just one less than the Badger record of 14 held by Jessie Vetter. The 13 shutouts put Desbiens sixth all-time in NCAA history.
Wisconsin and St. Cloud will meet again in Madison for the first-round of the WCHA playoffs. The best of three series games are 7 pm Friday and Saturday and again on Sunday if a third game is necessary.