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College Hockey:
Wisconsin Tops N’eastern In Johnson’s Bench Debut

— Four players scored goals and 11 recorded points as Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson made a successful debut Saturday with a 4-2 win over Northeastern.

Playing the program’s first contest at the Eagle’s Nest in Verona, Wis., Wisconsin (1-0-0) took an early lead with a Steph Boeckmann goal. Sophomore defender Nicole Uliasz skated through the neutral zone and fed senior Michelle Sikich skating down the left side of the Husky zone. Sikich centered to Boeckmann, who tapped it home at 6:03.

Northeastern (0-1-0) evened the game with just over two minutes remaining in the first period. Kim Greene’s point shot beat screened goaltender Jackie MacMillan for a power-play score at 17:49. Brooke White and Rachel Bertram assisted on the goal.

Wisconsin regained the lead before the period expired, just 42 seconds after Greene’s goal, with the help of its frosh line. Nikki Burish fed linemate Grace Hutchins, who stickhandled past one NU defender. Hutchins’ shot was stopped, but Sharon Cole pounced on the rebound. The first points of all three players’ careers came at 18:31.

Northeastern answered for a second time at 8:52 of the second after a turnover inside the UW defensive zone. Cindy Kenyon knocked the puck to teammate Lori DiGiacomo, who found herself alone in front before finishing.

Wisconsin responded within a minute for the second time and stayed ahead for good at 9:45 of the second period. Junior Steph Millar skated down the left side of the Northeastern zone and centered to senior Kendra Antony. Antony spun, putting her back to the goal, and tipped the puck to junior Meghan Hunter . Hunter punched the puck past Husky goaltender Chanda Gunn for the game-winner.

Sophomore Jackie Friesen tacked on insurance at 12:24, following up junior Karen Rickard’s drive to the net for the score.

No. 6 Wisconsin outshot Northeastern in each period and by a final tally of 41-19. Wisconsin registered 11 power-play shots on six attempts, but failed to convert. The Huskies went 1-for-7 during their advantages.

“Overall, I was pretty pleased. I was pleased with the effort,” said Johnson. “I got a lot of people involved in the game. We used four lines a lot of the game and I’m not sure that’s ever been done here. As the game progressed, using the four lines helped keep the pace up to the level I want to play at.”

MacMillan stopped 17 shots in earning her first victory of the season. Gunn, who played seven games with the Badgers during the school’s inaugural campaign in 1999-2000, made 37 saves, but still absorbed the loss.

For Johnson, it was his first win and first time behind the bench as head coach since 1996, when he led the Madison Monsters of the Colonial Hockey League. Despite the time span, Johnson felt comfortable.

“I started with the Monsters here and I started with Verona on this same bench,” Johnson mused. “I am familiar with this bench because at the other head coaching positions I’ve had, this is the rink I’ve started in.”

The Badgers and Huskies complete their season-opening series Sunday at the Kohl Center. The game begins at 2:35 p.m. CDT.

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