MADISON, Wis. — In Sunday’s latest edition of the Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth women’s hockey rivalry, 65 minutes was not enough time to decide the winner at the Kohl Center.
However, shootout goals by freshman forwards Audrey Cournoyer and Katie Wilson gave the Bulldogs the final edge, as the Badgers failed to score to stay alive.
“Friday, everyone (on our team) knew we didn’t play as well as we could have,” Wilson said. “Yesterday we went back to the hotel and had a good team video session. We wanted the win to get the two points, but we did the best that we could.”
Cournoyer’s goal came off a gorgeous deke to her forehand side, stuffing the puck around the right side of Wisconsin freshman goaltender Becca Ruegsegger. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ third shooter Wilson skated in at the net slowly before picking the open right side of Ruegsegger with a laser just inside the post.
“We always do shootouts at the end of practice and I usually shoot for the same spot every time,” Wilson said. “It works, so I just did that.”
The shootout was setup by Minnesota-Duluth forward Jessica Wong’s game-tying goal eight minutes into the third period. On what looked like a broken play, Wong skated in one-on-one on the Badgers’ defense. The highly-skilled freshman opted to shoot from the top of the left faceoff circle and buried a pin-point wrist shot into the upper right corner past Ruegsegger.
“If you look at our stats, you will see that there other players that have scored more goals than her,” Bulldogs’ coach Shannon Miller said of Wong. “But Jessica is a natural scorer, and she just sort of has flashes of brilliance. Today, I thought she played a good game, and that was a pure goal-scorer’s goal that she scored.”
Though Wisconsin opened the game with play reminiscent of their fast start Friday (including just missing out on three great scoring chances involving sophomore forward Brooke Ammerman), it was Minnesota-Duluth who got on the board first on a goal by senior forward Emmanuelle Blais.
On a four-on-four situation, Minnesota-Duluth forced a turnover just to the right of the Badgers’ bench, freeing the puck to junior forward Laura Fridfinnson. Fridfinnson’s shot was blocked, but caromed right to Blais. The Bulldogs’ leading scorer snapped home a shot to the left of a sprawling Ruegsegger.
However, the Badgers stormed back in the second period, scoring a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead.
Their first came when Emily Kranz corralled the puck on the left point. The senior forward then made a crisp cross-ice pass to freshman forward Brianna Decker, who cut through the vacant side of the Bulldogs’ defense before roofing a shot over the left shoulder of Bulldogs’ freshman goaltender Jennifer Harss.
“Kranz stepped up and got the puck and I called for it in the center,” Decker said. “I picked up my head and shot it glove high. It was a great goal and I think it fired up the team a little bit.”
Just under four minutes later on a power play, junior forward Mallory Deluce moved the puck to junior defenseman Geena Prough. The Badgers’ talented utility player ripped a high wrist shot through a crowd and up over the left shoulder of Harss to make the score 2-1.
Despite the shootout loss, Wisconsin (10-5-3, 7-4-1 WCHA) still comes away with a three-point weekend against the fifth ranked team in the country.
“I am happy with the way we played and again we showed signs of good things,” Badgers’ coach Tracey DeKeyser said. “But we just have to put the puck in the net when we have a chance to do that. We outshoot our opponent basically 95 percent of the time, but we are not scoring as often as we could.”
With the tie, Minnesota-Duluth (12-7-1, 8-5-1) remains two points in front of Wisconsin with just one weekend remaining in the first half of the WCHA season.
“We played a very complete game today, which was our goal to not to focus on the outcome,” Miller said. “Offensively, defensively, we wanted to win footraces and battle as hard as we could and obviously it paid off.”