MADISON — It seems as though Wisconsin goes through a stretch of games every season where they dominate possession and the shot battle, but can’t seem to put the puck in the back of the net.
Tonight, the Badgers played more than 50 minutes of scoreless hockey as they bombarded the Cornell net to no avail.
It was a scrappy rebound goal from junior Baylee Wellhausen that broke the tie 11:14 into the third period. Senior Sarah Nurse crashed the net and wrapped a puck around Cornell goalie Paula Voorheis to widen the lead, and Annie Pankowski scored her fourth goal in two games on an empty net to ice the win and give Wisconsin a 3-0 victory.
The Badgers ended the game with 54 shots on goal and a total of 104 shots taken. Voorheis was stellar in net for Cornell and her defense helped with 24 blocks.
Wisconsin leads the country in shots taken per game at 40.93.
The not-scoring isn’t something head coach Mark Johnson worries about too much, but it does seem to come an an inopportune time with an unsure return date for goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens and biggest rival Minnesota coming to town next week.
Johnson believes in putting the puck on net and eventually things fall your way.
“The big thing is if you doing little things to continue to make progress and get better,” Johnson said. “Tonight, we created energy, we were at full strength, we had the puck a lot, and we didn’t give up much. Those things are encouraging. The hardest thing about our sport, whether it’s our level or other levels, the men’s side, is scoring. People defend well, you run into goaltenders that play well and that’s what happened tonight. It could’ve ended very easily 0-0 and we go to a shootout,” said Johnson.
For the players, it’s about not getting too frustrated or pressing too hard, but believing in their preparation.
“We’re a good team and we know that,” Nurse said. “When we come out in games and the puck’s not going in the net, we know it’s going to go in eventually. To not get too frustrated on the ice is really important.”
Cornell hung with Wisconsin through most of the game. The Badgers held possession in the offensive zone for long stretches and eventually tired out the Big Red.
“We definitely pride ourselves on the level of conditioning we have,” Nurse said. “I think the third period is really our period and that’s where it really shows the work we put in off the ice.”
It was the first ever meeting between these two teams, who return to the ice Saturday night at 8 p.m. CT at LaBahn Arena.