MINNEAPOLIS -- Wisconsin was coming off a five-week hiatus and Saturday's game was Minnesota's third in six days, but the Badgers were unable to end their drought against the Golden Gophers as they fell 4-1 at Ridder Arena.
The Gophers have now won the last 14 meetings between the two teams.
The Badgers didn't show any signs of rust after their long winter break, coming out firing in the first period. The teams were evenly match through much of the frame, though Wisconsin seemed to be putting pressure on Minnesota goalie Amanda Leveille.
Whether it was being hyped about playing Minnesota right out of the hiatus, trying to break the unbeaten streak against the Gophers or something else, the Badgers fired many of their early shots up and around the net, something they haven't done much the first half of the season.
As coach Mark Johnson noted, that prevented the team from having any second chances with pucks on net.
"I thought the first half of the game, some of the chances we had, we were missing the net," he said. "Probably missed the net eight or nine times on shots where they may not go in but they may create a rebound or they may create something. Again, one of those areas that we have to do a little bit better job, we have to focus in on. The effort was there."
Minnesota got on the board first on a fluke play when junior Courtney Burke was tripped by a referee as she was bringing the puck out from behind the net. The puck slid right to the stick of Minnesota's Cara Piazza, who was able to wrap it past sophomore goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens.
The Gophers came out for the second period more composed and were able to control more possession and tempo of the game. Wisconsin was able to get the equalizer on a power-play goal from senior Karley Sylvester. Burke was able to get some redemption when her shot on goal came back on a rebound to Sylvester, who put it home. Redshirt senior Brittany Ammerman also received an assist on the play.
The Gophers pulled ahead for good just a few minutes later when a Hannah Brandt made a spectacular individual effort, carrying the puck around most of the offensive zone before eventually slotting a laser over Desbiens' shoulder. Dani Cameranesi scored twice in the third period for the Gophers -- both times tipping and getting dribbling pucks past Desbiens into the net. The second was a bouncing puck she knocked down and in. It was the sort of puck luck that Johnson noted his team didn't have but also that you earn.
The final score certainly doesn't tell the story of the game, nor does it give a fair assessment of the Badgers' effort and output in the game. Into the third period, Wisconsin started to press and tighten up as the score got more out of reach, which makes coming back even more difficult. The Gophers have been known to need a period to settle down, so Wisconsin coming out and owning the first period was a crucial first step. However, they need to be able to neutralize players like Brandt and Cameranesi for the full game. The Gophers are out-scoring and out-shooting opponents at a ridiculous rate in the final two periods.
"We’re close, but if you’re going to be successful against the top teams, you need to put in a full 60 minutes," Johnson said. "The goals we gave up, they’re certainly preventable. The nice thing is we get to play again at 2 p.m. tomorrow afternoon and rebound and find out a little bit more about us tomorrow."