MADISON — It took 12 rounds of shootout to decide a winner Saturday afternoon in Madison, but a sold-out crowd at LaBahn Arena was treated to a great game nonetheless. Thanks to McKenzie Steffen’s goal, the Wisconsin Badgers came out on top against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs with a 3-2 shootout victory to earn an extra conference point on a 1-1 tie.
Through 60 minutes of regulation, No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth fought to a 1-1 tie. Then came an epic shootout in which both teams scored on their first two shooters before the goalies made 18 straight saves. It will go down as a tie with UW winning 3-2 in the shootout.
Wisconsin out-shot Minnesota-Duluth 44-22 for the game, but was not able to find the back of the next. The game was scoreless until nearly halfway through the final frame, but it was Sarah Nurse who put the Badgers on the board first with a beauty of a top-shelf laser midway through the third period.
After the predominate number of Wisconsin’s shots had been from down low and in close, it was a snipe from above the circles that gave the Badgers a 1-0 lead. Nurse had the puck in the neutral zone and was disrupted by the Bulldogs, but came through with the puck on her stick and took no time to launch the shot.
Just five minutes later, UMD tied the game when Sydney Brodt beat Maddie Rolfes to a bouncing puck near the blue line and got in alone on Desbiens. The puck was just cleared from Duluth’s defensive corner and was free at mid-ice when Brodt won the foot race to it.
The rest of the game was a hard-fought battle between the top two teams in the country. It was a scoreless first period, but Wisconsin held possession for much of it. They peppered Duluth goalie Maddie Rooney, especially in the second half of the period, where they out-shot the Bulldogs 12-0 in the final eight minutes.
For the period, the Badgers attempted 40 shots, 19 of them on goal. For their part, the Bulldogs were disruptive in the defensive zone, poke-checking, blocking and keeping Wisconsin from finding a rhythm.
Minnesota-Duluth earned a power play early in the second period, but the Badgers held them to just one shot. The Bulldogs looked their best in the early second period, but Wisconsin began to pull away, at one point doubling-up on SOG 26-13.
The game was scoreless through two, with Wisconsin holding a 28-16 shots on goal advantage. The Badgers’ best chance came late in the second period as Emily Clark got a break down the near side. She drew the defenders and that left Nurse open for the pass, but Nurse wasn’t able to get the shot on net.
The game ended in a tie but the WCHA plays a shootout with the winner earning an extra point in conference standings. The conference record for shootout rounds is 13, so this one fell just short.
Annie Pankowski and Abby Roque scored on Wisconsin’s first two shootout attempts. Ashleigh Brykaliuk and Sidney Morin scored for Minnesota-Duluth.
In order, the rest of Wisconsin’s shooters were Sydney McKibbon, Clark, Sam Cogan, Jenny Ryan, Nurse, Presley Norby, Baylee Wellhausen, Sophia Shaver, Alexis Mauermann and the eventual winner, Steffen.
For Duluth, it was Brodt, Maria Lindh Catherine McGovern, Michelle Lowenhielm, Morgan Morse, Brooklynn Schugel, Demi Crossman, Linnea Hedin, Catherine Daoust and Lynn Astrup.
The two teams return to the ice to close out the season Sunday at noon. The game is sold-out. It will be Wisconsin’s senior day.