WINONA, Minn. — For the first two periods of Minnesota State’s matchup with No. 3 Wisconsin on Wednesday night, Mavericks head coach Jeff Vizenor was happy with what he saw. A power-play goal by Jinelle Zaugg at 1:17 of the second was the only goal scored by either team, and despite the deficit his team faced heading into the third, MSU trailed Wisconsin by only a single goal (1-0) and a single shot (21-20).
But at 3:15 of the third, Zaugg struck for the second time of the night, again on the power-play. A minute and a half later it was Bobbi-Jo Slusar. And just 37 seconds after that, Cyndy Kenyon beat MSU netminder Brit Kehler on a breakaway. Before he knew it, Vizenor’s hopes of breaking his program’s 0-25-1 all-time drought against Wisconsin (9-1, 7-1 WCHA) had vanished in a 7-1 defeat.
“[Early on] I think we moved our feet well, we made some good decisions, and we came back and helped out defensively,” Vizenor said. “In the third period, we did not do those things.”
Indeed it was the Badgers’ second goal of the game that Vizenor thought was the turning point. Trailing by only one, MSU (5-4-1, 4-3-1) had come close to tying the game on many occasions, only to be kept off the scoreboard by Badger goalie Christine Dufour. After Zaugg netted her second power-play goal of the game, the Maverick tempo and pace seemed to slow. Suddenly, Wisconsin controlled play exclusively in its own end, as evidenced by the trio of goals separated by only 2:03.
“I think after that second goal we got down on ourselves, and I don’t know why,” Vizenor said. “It just slid from there. They gained momentum and gained confidence and everything they touched was going in the right direction.”
The sophomore Zaugg now has tallied a goal in four consecutive contests and nine for the season, overtaking junior Sara Bauer for the team lead in that category.
“Our team needs a goal or two to finally get going, so it was good to finally finish,” Zaugg said. “I think it really got everyone else going.”
Minnesota State finally got a shot past Dufour at 12:51 when freshman Maggie Fisher buried her ninth goal of her maiden campaign, this one also on the power play. Jodi Helminen was credited with the only assist as Fisher powered home off of a rebound.
The arena announcer had not even finished the goal statement before the Badgers found the net again. Another highly touted freshman, Wisconsin’s Erika Lawler scored her third of the season just 29 seconds later, a goal which disheartened a newly energized MSU bunch, and drove the nail into the Maverick coffin.
“We got that one and it boosted us for a little bit,” said MSU sophomore forward Amanda Stohr. “And then for them to come right back down and score that really hit us.”
Wisconsin wasn’t done with its goal scoring binge either. Just over three minutes later, Heidi Kletzien put the Badgers up 6-1 on her second goal of the season. Less than two minutes after that, Wisconsin added its third power-play tally of the game when Tia Hanson blasted a rebound past Kehler at 18:12.
For the game, Wisconsin was a productive 3-for-7 with the man advantage, while limiting MSU to one power-play goal on five chances.
“Through the second period, it was looking like it was going to be a pretty tight game,” said Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson. “Then for some reason in the third, the puck started going in for us. But it wasn’t a 7-1 game if you watched the entire 60 minutes. It was a pretty even game most of the night.”
Dufour made 24 saves in improving to 4-1-0 on the season. Kehler meanwhile, kept her team in the game with a slew of marvelous saves through 40 minutes. A tough third period dropped Kehler to 5-2-0.
“Brit played well and kept us in it, but we didn’t do the things necessary to help her out in the third,” Vizenor said. “But we can’t hang our heads. We don’t have time to. We don’t have the luxury of having the weekend off like Wisconsin does so we have to get back after it again this weekend.”
The Mavericks will host nonconference foe Wayne State for a Friday-Saturday series back in Mankato this weekend. Face-off from All Seasons Arena is set for 7:07 p.m. on Friday with a Saturday matinee scheduled for 3:07 p.m. Wisconsin has this weekend off before heading to Minneapolis on Nov. 18 for a key series against defending national champion Minnesota.