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Wisconsin women’s hockey: Badgers ground North Dakota in 2-1 win

The Badgers locked in the season sweep of NoDak.

Wisconsin captain Sydney McKibbon scores the game-winner in the third period Sunday.
Nicole Haase

MADISON—The Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team earned a sweep against conference foe North Dakota with a 2-1 win Sunday afternoon in Madison.

It was the closest, toughest battle the Badgers have seen in a while—and maybe all season. There were a combined 29 penalties called over the weekend, keeping the Badgers from finding and keeping a rhythm.

“It was definitely one of our tougher battles,” senior Jenny Ryan said. “We haven’t been tested like that in a long time, so it showed a lot of character for our team to stick with it and get a goal late in the third and keep the lead and fight through adversity today.”

But pushing through and earning the two wins just helped Wisconsin build confidence as it pushes towards the postseason.

This weekend marks the first time the Badgers swept the four regular-season meetings with North Dakota since the 2010-11 season.

Senior captain Sydney McKibbon scored both of Wisconsin’s goals and both came on second-effort chances. She scored midway through the first period in a four-on-four situation when Ryan rocketed a shot just wide on the near side that caromed off the back boards and right to McKibbon, who was stationed at the far post. She pushed the puck at the net and it deflected in off the skate of the Fighting Hawks goalie.

North Dakota tied it up near the end of the second with a snipe from the far circle on the power play.

Wisconsin answered just five minutes in to the final frame and was able to hold off any late charges from NoDak. The Badgers crashed the net after a shot from the point on the power play and McKibbon buried the puck.

Defensemen Mellissa Channell and Lauren Williams both left the ice at different times during the game after taking hard hits. Channell returned to the ice, but Williams did not and her status was not immediately available after the game.

Senior Ann-Renée Desbiens made 15 saves to improve to 18-1-1 on the season. Desbiens continues to lead the NCAA in goals against average (0.75), save percentage (.957), winning percentage (.925) and shutouts (10).

Wisconsin will be home again vs. Minnesota State on Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday, at 3 p.m. It is the second-to-last home series of the regular season.