In the opening round of the WCHA Playoffs, the Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team swept the Bemidji State Beavers. UW won a close, frustrating game on Friday night, 2-1, and then came out on Saturday and dominated from puck drop to pick up a 5-0 shutout.
On Friday night, the Badgers outshot the Beavers 40-15 on the game, and 13-5 in the opening period, but found themselves down 1-0 heading into the first intermission. After just over 12 minutes had elapsed in the second period, the Badgers finally broke through with a Maddi Wheeler goal.
Brette Pettet scored quickly in the third period to give UW a 2-1 lead and the Badgers hunkered down and held the lead for the win. Kennedy Blair stopped 14 shots to backstop the win. The Badgers killed their one penalty taken on Friday and currently lead the country with a .933 clip on the penalty kill.
Saturday was a different story on offense for the Badgers. They only registered nine more shots but scored three more goals and absolutely blew the doors off of the Beavers from the jump. Casey O’Brien scored 66 seconds into the game and UW added two more goals in the first period to end this one barely after it got started.
O’Brien was involved in all five goals on Saturday, scoring two and assisting on the other three. Wisconsin’s top line of O’Brien, Daryl Watts and Makenna Webster was buzzing all afternoon.
“They’ve been playing well, even last night’s game I thought they had some quality opportunities and we didn’t capitalize on some of them but today, if you get enough of them they eventually go in so it was nice to see them create some space and get some goals,” head coach Mark Johnson said after the sweep.
Sophie Shirley became the 13th Badger to record 150 career points with an assist on O’Brien’s second-period tally on Saturday. The senior had a three-assist weekend for UW. With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Watts now has 296 points, putting her seven away from matching the NCAA career record. Blair was sharp again and had 15 saves to record her seventh shutout of the season.
The Badgers are now on to their 12th straight WCHA Final Faceoff in Minneapolis. Wisconsin will face Ohio State at Ridder Arena on Saturday with puck drop set for 4 p.m. CT. The winner of that game will go on to the Final Faceoff Championship Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.