MADISON—The No. 2 Minnesota Gophers defeated top-ranked Wisconsin 2-0 on the back of two goals from Kate Schipper to take the first game in the series Saturday at LaBahn Arena.
Both teams have been ranked among the nation’s top three in the past 14 games between them.
The Badgers started the game somewhat timidly and were not able to maintain possession or a sustained attack in the opening two periods. Their best opportunity came near the end of the first period when a Baylee Wellhausen shot squeezed through Minnesota goalie Sidney Peters’s pads. The puck skidded out of the crease and glanced off the post.
Wisconsin found momentum in the final frame and peppered Minnesota with 16 shots on goal, but was not able to find the back of the net. Junior Annie Pankowski hit the crossbar, but that was the closest the Badgers would come.
It was a particularly frustrating outcome for a Wisconsin team that struggled to bury the puck last weekend against Cornell. Peters left plenty of rebounds for the Badgers, but they were unable to slot them home.
Safe to say today was definitely a battle between the #Badgers and Gophers https://t.co/eG1VOx0mn2— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerWHockey) December 4, 2016
Wisconsin captain Sydney McKibbon felt like the Badgers were getting quality looks, but said they’d look to crash the net more in the series finale on Sunday.
“I think in the third period we had a couple of harder shots that produced more rebounds,” McKibbon said. “I think we need to crash the net some more and try to get her moving side to side.”
Senior goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens returned to the net for Wisconsin after missing a few games to injury.
“She was good,” Johnson said. “She held us in there the first period, they had a couple flurries especially on their first power play and she made a couple real tight saves that kept them off the scoreboard, so I thought she was quite sharp having not played in a few weeks.”
Minnesota opened the scoring with less than three minutes to go in the second period with a power-play goal. Kelly Pannek carried the puck in from the point and pushed the puck to Dani Cameranesi at the post. Cameranesi one-timed it to Schipper in the slot, who was wide-open thanks to Mackenzie Steffen suffering a broken stick.
The goal would prove to be the game-winner. Schipper iced the victory with an empty-net goal with 23 seconds left in the third.
The win might have come at a high cost for Minnesota, as Cameranesi took an awkward tumble in the corner boards and had to be helped off the ice. Gophers coach Brad Frost categorized it as a lower-body injury and was unsure if she would be able to play in the next game. Should she be out of the lineup, Frost said he expects Schipper to step up to the Gophers’ top line.
The two teams return to the ice Sunday at 2 p.m. to close out the series. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Wisconsin/Fox Sports North.