MADISON -- In a storyline written for the screen, senior captain Blayre Turnbull tallied three power-play goals -- a first in program history and her only career hat trick -- to lead No. 3 Wisconsin over No. 7 Minnesota Duluth on Saturday at LaBahn Arena.
"It’s an emotional start to the game and for her to go out that way and get a hat trick on a special night, being our captain and leading us, you’re very happy for those situations when they happen and certainly worked hard," Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. "Obviously the PP was a key for us tonight."
After battling to a scoreless tie Friday night, freshman Annie Pankowski said the emotions of senior night actually helped propel the Badgers on Saturday.
"I think we just came out rolling today so it was just to put the puck in," she said. "Once we get going, it’s hard to stop us, but I think we just need to keep our mind set on crashing the net. I think we just had a lot more energy. We're out there for our seniors today and we just really wanted to win for them, so I just think we had a lot of energy from that."
The Badgers as a whole and Turnbull in particular had been struggling to find the back of the net -- she'd suffered through a 10-game scoreless drought before lighting the lamp last weekend -- but they opened the floodgates on Saturday night.
"It’s exciting [scoring the hat trick] but I think the main thing is that we won the game by more than one goal," Turnbull said. "Something we’ve been working on in practice is getting pucks to the net and getting bodies to the net to make sure we’re scoring on our chances, so thankfully tonight we were able to capitalize."
The 5-0 win over Minnesota-Duluth is Wisconsin's largest margin of victory over the Bulldogs in the history of the rivalry. The Badgers are now unbeaten in 10 straight games against Duluth.
It was a night of benchmarks, as sophomore goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens recorded her 11th shutout of the season, putting her second in program history. Former Badger Jessie Vetter owns the record with 14.
The scoring started early for the Badgers, as Turnbull put them up 1-0 halfway through the first period on an impressive individual effort. She picked up the puck at the far blue line and carried it in toward the face-off circle. She deked and shook UMD's Linnea Hedin off her skates. With Hedin out of the way, Turnbull had a clear path to the net and she slotted it past Kayla Black for the goal.
Desbiens was credited with the second assist on Turnbull's goal, her second assist of the season.
Pankowski scored the second goal when junior Courtney Burke's shot from the Lance Johnson mark bounced off Black's blockers and sat in the crease, with Pankowski there to bury it in the wide-open net. It was Pankowski's first power-play goal of the year.
Turnbull added her second goal with under a minute remaining in the first period when a Pankowski rebound slid out to just beyond the top of the crease and Blayre went down to one knee to bury it with authority.
The teams skated to a scoreless second period as they traded shots. Despite the uneven score, the play on the ice was fairly close through the first two periods. It wasn't until the final frame when the Badgers took control and really pulled away from the Bulldogs.
Turnbull completed her hat trick on a five-hole shot from the left circle. Freshman Emily Clark rounded out the scoring when she deflected in a Pankowski pass. Pankowski was falling and spinning near the back line, but put an odd-angle pass in front of the net as Clark crashed in and just managed to put a stick on it and slot it home. Clark was almost surprised by the play as it happened.
Burke ended the night with four assists, a career high.
Pankowski ended the night with three points on her goal and two assists. She's come on stronger in the second half of the season, crediting both a change on linemates and finding her comfort zone have helped her. A new line pairing with freshman Emily Clark and senior Brittany Ammerman has proved beneficial for all the players.
"It’s really fun to watch Britt think the game and learn from her and be on her wing," Pankowski. "She’s always telling us what she sees on the ice so it’s always we’re working together and seeing how she sees the game. It’s just a great experience to be growing with her.
"It’s definitely confidence. Having Clarky and Britt on my line right now is just really a comforting feel out there and I just think I can play my game with them."
Turnbull isn't the most outgoing or vocal player on the Badgers, but she provides a stability that her teammates respond to.
"You need good leadership," Johnson said. "If you have good leadership, you generally have a good chemistry and if you put those two things together, that’s a good way to start with any group. Blayre’s been around, she’s been mentored by the kids that have graduated and they’ve passed the torch to her and she’s done a great job for us. You’re just happy, as the coaching staff, to see them have this kind of night."
The Badgers were perfect on the penalty kill once again, having now killed 51 consecutive penalties for a nation-leading 96.8 percent penalty kill.