Feb. 13, 2014
• Wisconsin Notes | Minnesota Notes
MADISON, Wis. -- Following a series sweep of Ohio State on the road last weekend, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team looks to continue its seven-game winning streak with a home series this Friday and Saturday against arch-rival Minnesota.
After Friday’s 7 p.m. tilt at LaBahn Arena, the series conclusion on Saturday will be held next door at the Kohl Center for the fourth-ever Fill the Bowl event.
Although the team’s six seniors will be recognized and honored in Friday’s Senior Night contest, the series will be epic in more ways than one: it will feature the top-2 women’s hockey teams in the nation, the No. 2 Badgers (23-3-2, 19-3-2) against the No. 1 Golden Gophers (28-1-1, 22-1-1).
“I think everybody up in Minnesota, and certainly the people here in Madison that follow us, have this weekend circled on their calendars,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “It should be an exciting couple of games. And certainly Saturday night’s game is going to be special, not only for our players but certainly for our fans, and I’m sure the Minnesota players are going to be equally thrilled with the opportunity to play in front of a big crowd.”
The rivalry between Wisconsin and Minnesota is a long-standing one, as the teams have skated in border battles since the inception of UW’s women’s hockey program 14 years ago. The Badgers trail the Golden Gophers 26-37-8 in the all-time series record, and currently have an eight-game losing streak against the WCHA foe leading back to a 3-3 tie on Jan. 6, 2012.
| The Badgers host Minnesota in the fourth "Fill the Bowl" game at the Kohl Center next Saturday
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The last meeting between the teams on Oct. 11-12 didn’t fare well for the Badgers, who dropped the two-game road series to the Golden Gophers 2-1 and 2-0. Wisconsin jumped to an early lead in Friday’s contest, as sophomore Erika Sowchuk netted a power play goal in the heart of the first period. But Minnesota battled back, knotting the score at 1-1 later in the first frame before taking the lead with a power play goal at the 7:12 mark of the final stanza.
Despite outshooting Minnesota 35-23 in the tilt, the Cardinal and White recorded its first loss of the 2013-14 season.
The UW defense, led by senior netminder Alex Rigsby, returned with a valiant effort in Saturday’s series conclusion, holding off Minnesota’s offensive push for the first two frames. But the final period belonged to the Minnesota’s Kelly Terry, who lit the lamp twice to capture the victory for the Golden Gophers. Rigsby recorded 31 saves in the losing effort.
But the Badgers have found more recent success, currently running on a seven-game winning streak after sweeping conference-rival Ohio State 3-0 and 3-2 in last weekend’s series in Columbus, Ohio. Redshirt junior Brittany Ammerman tallied four points on the weekend, scoring two goals in Saturday’s game after recording a goal and an assist in the Badgers’ victory on Friday.
Senior Kelly Jaminski and junior Blayre Turnbull each added a goal in the final frame of Friday’s contest while Rigsby made 13 saves to lift the Badgers to a 3-0 triumph over the Buckeyes. The effort resulted in the 10th shutout of the year for UW, and the 28th shutout of Rigsby’s career.
After Ammerman’s first goal put the Badgers on the board early in Saturday’s game, freshman Sarah Nurse found the back of the net for the 10th time this season to give Wisconsin a 2-0 advantage. Despite OSU’s offensive push that resulted in two goals, Ammerman’s second goal of the tilt during the final frame kept UW on top for the 3-2 win and the series sweep of the Buckeyes.
Minnesota’s suffered its only loss of the season at the hands of WCHA-opponent North Dakota during a home series last Nov. 16-17. After being blitzed 6-1 in the first game of the series, UND snapped Minnesota’s historic 62-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory in the series conclusion, handing the Golden Gophers their first loss since Feb. 17, 2012. Minnesota currently holds an 8-game winning streak and 16-game unbeaten streak.
“As I look at film and things, they defend well,” Johnson said. “They don’t give up a lot of opportunities. You’re going to have to play real good, disciplined hockey, and you can’t take too many penalties. The last couple of weekends, their power play has started to click. If you’re going to have a chance to beat them, you certainly have to capitalize on your opportunities.”
Attendees for Saturday’s Fill the Bowl game are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the Kohl Center, which will be donated to the Second Harvest Foodbank in southern Wisconsin.