Badgers take care of business in WCHA opening round

first_imgBRYAN FAUST/Herald photoThe No. 3-ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team scored six goals and shut out North Dakota Saturday to close out the WCHA best-of-three playoff series.After a 4-1 victory in the series opener, the Badgers were relentless in their efforts to prevent a do-or-die game three.”It was extremely important to wrap it up as soon as possible,” UW goaltender Meghan Horras said. “We didn’t want them to get any confidence, because they’re a team that can take a little bit and turn it into a lot.”After a back and forth start in the early going of Saturday’s game, UW forward Jinelle Zaugg picked up her 22nd goal of the season, snapping a five-game scoring drought. Freshman Erika Lawler and junior Sara Bauer, a finalist for the Patty Kamaier award, were credited with the assists.The second period began with a bang, as the Badgers scored two goals in just 32 seconds. At 1:32, Cyndy Kenyon added her eighth goal of the season on a top-shelf backhand, following a cross-ice pass from her new linemate Bauer. Lawler followed with her 11th goal of the year, as she picked up a drop pass from fellow freshman Tia Hanson, with the UND goaltender, senior Amber Hasbargen, nowhere in sight.”The second period was real big for us, because it kind of put the game out of reach,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “I challenged the team to come out and play like we wanted to win. It was kind of an ‘eye of the tiger’-type thing where we … let the other team know that we wanted to wrap it up and not let this thing linger on.”After the second goal, North Dakota made a personnel change and benched Hasbargen in favor of Kari Gabrielson, who was making her first collegiate appearance.While the freshman Gabrielson stopped 13 shots in the remaining 37:54, the Badgers’ offensive machine was already rolling.Senior Nikki Burish closed out the second period with her 10th goal on the year, becoming the sixth Badger to register double-digit goals this season. Wisconsin added two more goals in the third, as Lawler picked up her second of the day and junior fourth-line forward Phoebe Monteleone added her second goal of the season.The 6-0 victory was the Badgers’ 10th shutout of the season and their fourth in five games. Horras made 18 saves in the stonewalling, while capturing a school record of 17 career shutouts.”It’s always nice to get a shutout, but if I would have let in a few goals, we still would have won, and that’s what it’s all about,” Horras said. “The defense also stepped it up big, keeping shots to the perimeter and not letting the opposition walk right in or get second chances.”While Horras is the lone senior option between the pipes for UW, Johnson gave the nod to rookie Jessie Vetter in game one of the best-of-three series. The goaltenders are in an interesting situation as they continue to fight for a starting job while being expected to play at the highest level during the playoff push.”It’s something that at the beginning of the season I thought I would hate, but competing everyday keeps you on your toes and keeps you honest and working,” Horras said.Vetter was stellar on Friday, making 21 saves on 22 shots. The lone North Dakota goal came in the third period and was deflected in by a Badger forward.The freshmen production didn’t stop, as rookie Angie Keseley scored the first three goals of the 4-1 game to register the Badgers’ fourth hat trick of the season, as well as their first win of the playoffs.Keseley scored two goals in the first period, and she added another early in the third for the natural hat trick. Lawler tallied two helpers on the day and five points in the series.”You don’t know how they’re going to react in their first playoff games, but Erika [Lawler] and Angie [Keseley] have been playing real[ly] well these last few months, and maybe they’re just naive enough that they just go to the game, put the skates on and go play,” Johnson said. “Anytime you get production from young players, it’s a bonus, but … they’ve been pretty consistent all the way through, and at times they have scored big goals and provided a needed spark.”Next up for the Badgers are the WCHA semi-finals, where they will take on St. Cloud State. The last time the two teams faced off, the Huskies snapped UW’s 13-game unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory.”Were all pretty pumped to play,” Lawler said. “They beat us in St. Cloud, and we’ll be fired up looking for some revenge.”last_img

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