The Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team finally got to start their season this weekend as the defending national champs and preseason No. 1 team traveled to Columbus, Ohio to take on the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes. The Badgers (1-1-0, 1-1-0-0 WCHA) split their season opening series with the Buckeyes (1-1-0, 1-1-0-0 WCHA), losing 3-2 on Friday night but roaring back and winning 5-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Junior forward Sophie Shirley had a standout weekend, assisting on one goal on Friday night while putting two in the net herself on Saturday afternoon. The assist on Friday was career point No. 100 for Shirley while the two goals she scored on Saturday pushed her over the career 50-goal plateau. Shirley became the No. 18 player in school history to score 50 goals in her career, and the No. 27 Badgers player to record 100 career points.
Transfer goalie Kennedy Blair, formerly of Mercyhurst and North Dakota, got the start in both games and recorded her first shutout, stopping all 28 Buckeye shots, in a Badgers uniform on Saturday. Blair also stopped 33 shots on Friday in the loss.
“I think it was good, I think it all came from the offense defense really helping me in the front, I think they played really well on the defensive zone and the offense as well. So I think I give it to them but it feels really good to get a shutout in my first win as a Badger,” Blair said after her shutout.
Junior defenseman Nicole LaMantia had four assists, including three in the rout on Saturday, on the weekend to pace the Badgers attack. Daryl Watts and Brette Pettet scored Wisconsin’s two goals on Friday and freshman Maddi Wheeler scored her first career goal on Saturday along with Dara Greig and Britta Curl.
1P | WISCONSIN GOAL— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) November 27, 2020
Badgers answer right back with this net front tap-in from who else but Daryl Watts?!
2-1 Buckeyes pic.twitter.com/WktkzsmDir
Head coach Mark Johnson was happy with how the team responded on Saturday after losing their season opener, for the first time in a decade mind you.
To help make the point that it's going to be a different kind of competition level early in the season for the #Badgers women's hockey team: They allowed 2 goals over the first 5 games in 2019-20. They allowed 3 in the first period tonight.— Todd Milewski (@ToddMilewski) November 27, 2020
“I think certainly the first period the way we started helped us to score first, we came out with a lot more energy than we did yesterday which, you know, the first period we were on our heels quite a bit but, we watched some tape this morning and had a good first 20 minutes. Obviously when you score people get excited, so I was happy. And then second and third period was typical on the road hockey, grinding it out, banging and killing penalties and doing things like that. Overall I was happy, certainly our goaltender played very well today and really earned a shutout.”