MADISON, Wisc. — Wisconsin hit the ice with surging energy met by Minnesota’s drive for a series shutout in Sunday afternoon’s rematch of yesterday’s 2-0 Gopher win. This time the Badgers never trailed, but all three Wisconsin goals were answered by the Gophers in a 3-3 tie.
The No. 4 Badgers (11-4-1 7-4-1 WCHA) surrendered 10 power plays to No. 1 Minnesota (14-0-2, 11-0-2) and gave up goals on two of them, including the game’s final goal by Kelly Stephens with just 10 minutes left in regulation.
Wisconsin took two penalties in the overtime period, but junior Meghan Horras made five of her 36 saves in overtime to preserve the tie.
“It’s tough playing shorthanded anyhow,” Horras said. “Then to see it in overtime, especially against Minnesota made me a little nervous, but less so than previous kills because the team was just playing so well. They were blocking everything. They weren’t letting anything by.”
Wisconsin’s day started strong with a power play goal by Molly Engstrom at 5:20 of the first period. The early lead provided the Badgers with momentum for the rest of the afternoon.
“Any time you score, you get excited and it brings a little enthusiasm to your bench,” said Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson. “We came out and we gave them 1-0 so I think everybody was feeling pretty good about the way we played.”
Minnesota outshot the Badgers 12-6 in the second period and junior Natalie Darwitz had two goals to show for it. Darwitz tied the score 1-1 early in the second period with a textbook offensive assist from junior center Krissy Wendell. Wisconsin took the lead again at 16:03 with a goal from senior left wing Jackie Friesen, but just 23 seconds later, Darwitz scored her second goal of the game to even out the score 2-2 headed into the third intermission.
“I thought I was in a little bit of a funk the past couple weekends in scoring goals, and I’m glad I could get a couple this week,” Darwitz said.
Wisconsin again took the lead when freshman Jinelle Zaugg scored 5:29 into the third period. Minnesota caught up with Wisconsin for the third time at 11:46 in the third period with a power-play goal by senior Kelly Stephens. The period was even on the scoreboard despite the Gophers’ 14-4 shot advantage.
Although the Badgers could not hold their leads, a tie game was not a horrible position to be in against the defending NCAA champions.
“If you’re going to beat teams like this you want to play with the lead as long as you can,” Johnson said. “I think its tougher trying to come back against this type of squad as we saw yesterday.”
Johnson said his team was fortunate to tie having surrendered so many penalties. Minnesota had been converting power plays at nearly a 40 percent clip entering the weekend.
“We had a couple of power-plays in the third period, tied it up, had a couple more and didn’t capitalize,” Darwitz said. “Wisconsin’s a great team. They worked hard, outworked us at times, and we made too many mistakes and that’s how it was a tie game today.”
The energy on the Wisconsin bench was apparent in its performance both offensively and defensively. They came out with a strong start in rebounding from Saturday’s defeat. With each goal, the Badgers were given more fuel to work towards a win.
“They have more fire-power this year than they have in the past,” said Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson.
Darwitz hopes this game will remind the Gophers of the intensity level necessary to win.
“I really hope everyone learned how we played this weekend and knows that we have to get better, and we can’t just show up on any given day and beat any given team because that’s not what we’re all about,” Darwitz said.