MINNEAPOLIS — According to Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson, one of the hardest things to do is to end an opponent’s season. Yesterday North Dakota proved that to No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth, and Bemidji State proved that to No. 1 Minnesota, as both favorites needed to come from behind to win. Today, it was St. Cloud State’s turn against the No. 3 Badgers.
The Huskies (9-22-4) took a 1-0 lead 13:56 into the game when a missed pass from the corner was picked up by Laura Fast, who skated in for the score. That lead held until the third period, when Wisconsin (27-7-1) finally broke through for three goals and a 3-1 win.
“I was really proud of our effort today,” said St. Cloud coach Jason Lesteberg. “It was very indicative of our last third of the season. We wanted to play in-your-face hockey and take away a lot of their time and space. I thought the kids did a great job. We needed to be better with the puck. We were turning it over a little too much.”
The win was the ninth in a row for the Badgers — the last three all coming against the Huskies.
All-WCHA rookie team member Jinelle Zaugg took advantage of a critical SCSU mistake to tie the game at 2:14 of the third period. After clearing the puck on a dump pass, SCSU goalie Lauri St. Jacques left her net open for Zaugg to score on the rebound.
Sophomore Lindsay Macy notched the game-winner at 14:23 in the third. Sara Bauer and Sharon Cole added the assists, the only assists of the day, to extend their point streaks to ten and six games, respectively.
A whistle on Molly Engstrom at 18:41 in the game gave SCSU a chance to pull its goalie and play with a two-skater advantage. The ploy would not profit the Huskies as Carla MacLeod picked up a loose puck and fired it from her own blueline to tally the empty net goal and seal a Wisconsin victory.
“I found out in practice when I shoot the puck curves to the right, so I needed to shoot it a little to the left,” MacLeod said.
In goal for the Badgers, Christine Dufour made her first appearance in 15 games. Collecting 13 saves in the game, Dufour tallied her eighth win of the season. Though playing in just 10 games this season, Dufour has posted an impressive 0.80 goals-against average in those contests. St. Jacques was a wall for the Huskies, denying 34 shots by the Badger offense.
The win marked the first time this season that the Badgers have come back to win having trailed after any period. Wisconsin will face Minnesota-Duluth in the first semifinal game on Saturday at Ridder Arena. Johnson, knowing that all four previous meetings this season proved to be great hockey games, expects more of the same tomorrow.