DULUTH, Minn. — Jackie MacMillan made 35 saves, while Kendra Antony had a goal and an assist as Wisconsin defeated top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth, 3-1, on Sunday at the Duluth Entertainment and Convocation Center. The Badgers handed the defending NCAA Champions their first loss of the season and their first since last February, a 23-game span.
“The girls really worked hard and we capitalized on our opportunities tonight,” said assistant coach Dan Koch. “We knew what we were getting into when we came up here — with them being undefeated and having a winning streak going. We focused on getting loose pucks, getting shots on net, going hard to the net and then playing really strong defensively.”
The teams skated to a scoreless first period, due in large part to both goaltenders. UW’s Jackie MacMillan made nine saves including three from point-blank range. Bulldog Laurie Alexander had the best chances with a shot and rebound from MacMillan’s right side.
UMD’s Tuula Puputti was credited with eight saves with over half from the low slot. She stopped Badger Amy Vermeulen on a shot and rebound after the freshman skated out from behind the net. Puputti also robbed Jackie Friesen on a rebound during a Badger 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 1:06, and Kendra Antony on short breakaway.
Wisconsin (8-8-2, 7-5-1 WCHA) went 0-for-4 on the power play in the first period while Minnesota-Duluth (13-1-3, 8-1-2) failed on its first attempt and went on its own 5-on-3 advantage as the first period came to an end.
The Badgers killed the two-person UMD advantage, with the help of a spectacular glove save by MacMillan on Joanne Eustace, then finally converted on a power play to grab a 1-0 lead. Steph Millar’s initial shot from left of goal went off the far post behind Puputti. Vermeulen picked up the puck with her back to goal, spun, and, and notched her first career goal. The score came at the 4:07 mark.
Wisconsin grabbed a 2-0 lead at 14:48 when Kathryn Greaves pinched along the right boards and put the puck on net from the point. Puputti made the first save, but Antony picked up the loose puck and hit the net for her seventh of the season.
UMD cut the lead in half exactly two minutes later when Joanne Eustace’s slap shot from the right faceoff circle hit off the far post and went in past MacMillan.
Both teams had chances in the third period to add to their goal totals.
Hanne Sikio had the first chance for UMD while on the power play at 4:27. Sikio took a cross-ice pass while positioned to MacMillan’s left. She had a half empty net, but failed to tee up her shot before MacMillan slid across and stopped it.
Wisconsin’s best chance of the third saw Friesen skate in alone on Puputti, but the senior stopped her on the break and the rebound to keep it a 2-1 contest with just 1:50 remaining in the game.
After a Bulldog timeout at 1:40, UMD pulled Puputti just seconds after for the extra skater, but Meghan Hunter sealed the win with 20 seconds remaining when Antony sent the sophomore down the left side. The center’s wrister from the blue line past a UMD defender found the net, making her the first Badger to score 50 career goals.
MacMillan improved to 8-7-1 with the win, while Puputti dropped her first decision of the ear and is now 7-1-0. She made 22 saves in defeat.
“When Jackie’s on, I think she is one of the top goalies in the conference,” Koch said. “She did a nice job of seeing through screens and reacting to tips. They are a tough team to defend against because you can’t just stop their top line. They have a lot of depth so all three of our lines have to play solid.”
The teams wrap-up their season series tomorrow night. The game begins at 7:05 p.m. at the DECC.
“It was great game to watch because our players went out there and played with a lot of passion,” concluded Koch. “They played to win. We showed a lot of heart and character. We had a lot of adversity and a lot of bad bounces the first half of the season, but we’ve put those behind us.”