MADISON, Wis. — With St. Cloud States dreams for a top-four playoff spot in the WCHA fading fast, the Huskies needed at least two points from a weekend at Wisconsin to keep those hopes alive. With four minutes and 40 seconds left in the game, senior forward Meaghan Pezon delivered them in spectacular fashion.
Pezons goal gave St. Cloud a 4-3 victory over host Wisconsin Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
It was just a big goal out of a big player, Huskies captain Felicia Nelson said of Pezons efforts. She has been working hard all season and getting her chances. Now she is burying them.
Things were looking dire for the Huskies when Wisconsin opened the third period with a shorthanded goal, tying the game at three. Ironically the goal came off of a bad mistake by Pezon.
Wisconsins Friday afternoon hero, sophomore forward Carolyne Prevost, intercepted a breakout pass from Pezon, then found freshman forward Brianna Decker cutting alone on a breakaway. Decker then deked to left on her backhand side and lifted the puck past Nelson.
I was the one that caused the turnover, so I needed to get one (myself), Pezon said.
And atone Pezon did. After taking a long outlet pass from freshman forward Alex Nelson, Pezon then faked out Badgers defenseman Saige Pacholok going around her on the left. With Pacholok beat, Pezon flipped the puck up and over Wisconsin freshman goaltender Becca Ruegseggers glove for the game winner in the top corner.
Honestly, I thought I had someone else with me so I kind of cut wide, Pezon said. Their defense backed off and gave me the backhand, so I brought my stick around (Pacholok) and got the puck to my forehand.
Prior to Pezons heroics, both teams suffered through a penalty filled first period, where both teams traded goals.
A little over eight minutes into the period, Wisconsins Brooke Ammerman got the hosts on the board first picking up a loose rebound off the right side of Huskies junior goaltender Ashley Nixon. Ammermans power-play goal was setup from a point shot of freshman defenseman Stefanie McKeough that Nixon mishandled.
St. Cloud answered in the waning seconds of the first, as senior forward Felicia Nelson picked up her third goal of the weekend. On the goal, senior forward Caitlin Hogan took an innocent shot on net from the right corner. However, Nelson deflected the shot out of mid-air, which then caromed ever so slowly past Ruegsegger.
She has been doing it since Christmas (scoring big goals), Pezon said of Nelson. Thats what a leader does. Shes been a big time player for us and we need her.
The penalties and the power-play goals continued into the second period, but it was the Huskies who grab a 3-2 lead when the dust settled.
St. Cloud freshman defenseman started the scoring in the wild period, fighting through a mad scramble to push the puck past Ruegsegger after the Badgers goaltender failed to control Nelsons shot.
Wisconsin junior forward Mallory Deluce answered just over a minute later, taking advantage of a make-up tripping call on St. Cloud freshman forward Kylie Lane. With teammate Ammerman along the half-boards to the right of Nixon, Deluce cut from behind the net out front. Deluce then redirected Ammermans pass behind her and past Nixon.
Brooke made a really nice play, Deluce said. I just had my stick on the ice and it went in.
Ammerman was happy to see Deluce grateful back with her line this weekend, and to see the long dormant Wisconsin power play clicking.
Have Mallory back was a huge plus, because I love playing with her, Ammerman said. To get two power-play goals and to get some success from something that has really been haunting us all year is really awesome.
Nearing the 12 minute mark of the period the Huskies regained the one goal lead on a goal Holly Roberts. On the play the St. Cloud senior forward cut down the slot and one-timed Nelsons centering pass into the top right corner over Ruegsegger.
Another two power-play goals gave St. Cloud (10-11-3 overall, 12-7-1 in the WCHA) four on the weekend. Huskies coach Jeff Giesen knows that has been keying his teams success.
Thats our bread and butter right now, Giesen said. Even ask our team that our weakness has been playing five-on-five right now.
Giesen was also quick to compliment Pezons play.
When she gets in space she can go and really skate, Giesen said. Shes got great hands and that was just a great goal.
For Wisconsin (14-9-3, 11-8-1) the loss proved to be another of the frustrating variety, as the Badgers once again heavily out-shot their opponent 37-24.
Its pretty disappointing, Ammerman said. Now we just have to run the table and get ourselves in the top eight in the NCAA and good position for the WCHA tournament.
Next weekend St. Cloud returns home for a crucial series with fourth place Bemidji State. Meanwhile, Wisconsin travels to Columbus to take on fifth place Ohio State.