MADISON, Wisc. — For the second time this season, center Sara Bauer has won the hearts and the hats of the Wisconsin crowd.
The Wisconsin sophomore scored a goal each period to lead the No. 5 Badgers (6-1, 4-1 WCHA) to a 7-0 victory over St. Cloud State (2-5, 2-5 WCHA) on Friday afternoon at the Kohl Center. The goals lifted Bauer’s season total to 10 – two more than she had all of last season.
“Sara has gotten off to a good start,” said Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson. “She’s already got a couple hat tricks early on in the season so, like everybody, she’ll just continue to get better.”
The other Badger goal scorers were sophomore right wing Lindsay Macy, with goals in the first and second periods, junior right wing Grace Hutchins in the second period, and junior center Nikki Burish in the third period.
Five St. Cloud penalties in the first two periods helped Wisconsin to its early lead. Bauer’s first goal came on a 5-on-3, and Macy’s second goal was on the power play. The penalties helped the Badgers gain a 34-8 shot advantage in the first two periods and 50-16 for the game.
St. Cloud coach Jason Lesteberg said his teams’ lack of scoring attempts resulted from a lack of puck control.
“It’s a lot like any sport. You have to maintain possession of the object, and in this case, it’s a puck,” Lesteberg said. “You’ve got to be able to control the game a little bit longer and that’s why they were able to out shoot us 50-16 because they were able to move the puck around and create some openings.”
Husky freshman goaltender Kendall Newell led an admirable defensive effort against the Badgers with 43 saves. She kept up intensity and consistency on the penalty kill, despite a few slips. Wisconsin sophomore Meghan Horras stopped 16 shots for the shutout.
“Meghan played real well,” Macy said. “She stopped a couple two-on-ones and stepped up big when she needed to.”
Wisconsin’s exceptional shot accuracy against Newell helped fuel the victory. Bauer scored her three goals on just four shots – almost as impressive as her first hat trick in the season opener, when she needed just three shots. Macy scored her two goals on seven shots.
“We just try to get the most quality shots and take them,” Macy said. “It doesn’t matter how many shots you have. It’s how many shots you score.”
St. Cloud State will look to solidify an improved offensive effort starting from Saturday afternoon’s face off at 2:05. Thirteen of St. Cloud’s players are freshmen or sophomores, and Lesteberg is easing them into the challenges of college hockey.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids,” Lesteberg said. “It’s going to take us a little bit to get going but I think we need to just learn to compete each and every game.”
Johnson was pleased with how his players rebounded after Ohio State upset them last weekend. He aims to maintain this afternoon’s intensity and team effort throughout the season.
“We’ve always got to work on things,” Johnson said. “The big thing is that we came out, skated hard, moved the puck pretty well and created some opportunity. We’ve only played seven games now so the group’s getting better, which is the most important thing. We try to get better every weekend.”