MINNEAPOLIS — Wisconsin was 0-for-5 on the power play, failed to capitalize on several early chances and dropped a 3-1 decision to Minnesota at Ridder Arena Friday.
The Badgers (4-2-1, 0-2-1 WCHA) spent three minutes during the first period on the power play and the first minute of the second but couldn’t convert and that proved costly.
The Gophers (7-0-0, 5-0-0) got their first power-play opportunity two minutes into the second period and needed just 12 seconds for Krissy Wendell to slam home a Winny Brodt pass for her 10th goal of the season.
“We got our feet under us,” Wendell said of the goal, which came on Minnesota’s fifth shot of the game. “It gave us a boost and we continued to play pretty well after that point.”
The Gophers were able to make it a two-goal lead later in the period when Melissa Coulombe’s shot from the left point went past a screen and into the lower left corner of the net at 11:41.
Three power plays in the second period and their fifth of the game in the third weren’t enough to get the Badgers on the board. Minnesota goalie Jody Horak finally saw her scoreless streak of 249:02 snapped when Wisconsin’s Jackie Friesen walked out of the right corner and banked a shot off the goalie to cut the lead in half.
The Badgers’ momentum was halted less than three minutes later, though, when they turned the puck over in their own zone and Minnesota’s La Toya Clarke picked it up in the right circle and beat Wisconsin goalie Jackie MacMillan with 2:54 to play.
The Gophers’ final goal came as the Badger defense, with only four players, lost steam. Badger captain Sis Paulsen, out due to a game disqualification penalty last weekend, and Carla MacLeod, who broke her leg last Friday, were missing in action and their absence showed in the game’s latter stages.
“We began to wear down on defense,” Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson said. “Playing with three and four defenseman began to show in the middle of the third period. When we made it 2-1, I felt pretty good but they got that goal back quick.”
The first period, in which the Badgers outshot Minnesota 8-4, looked like the game would be dictated at Wisconsin’s pace.
“They definitely played their game in the first period,” Gopher head coach Laura Halldorson said. “They’re a very good team and they executed their systems.”
Minnesota sustained the attack through the game’s opening minutes but Wisconsin seemed to find its legs around the five-minute mark and controlled most of the period from that point.
Wendell’s goal at 2:12 of the second period seemed to change all of that; it was the Gophers who carried the play through the second period and, most importantly, capitalized on chances to take a 2-0 lead.
Neither team was able to create barrages around the goal, thanks to solid defensive play by both teams.
For Horak, the lack of activity didn’t seem to be a problem.
“I just tried to stay focused mentally,” she said. “I try to keep sharp by making sure I stop the puck behind the net and make good passes.”
In six games, she has allowed just four goals while facing just 20 shots per game. The goal she allowed to the Badgers was her first since Oct. 13 in a 7-2 win over Findlay.
The teams conclude their two-game series Saturday afternoon with a 4:05 p.m. CST contest.