MADISON, Wis. — On a special afternoon for women’s hockey, one line of Wisconsin Badgers seemed to enjoy the experience playing outside more than most.
Wisconsin’s second line of Carolyne Prevost, Kelly Nash and Brianna Decker were involved in four of the Badgers first five goals, as the hosts rolled to a 6-1 victory over Bemidji State in front of 8,263 fans outdoors at the Culvers Camp Randall Hockey Classic. It was just the second outdoor game in women’s hockey history, and the first to be played inside a football stadium.
“We’ve been playing together now for about a month and we’ve been finding good chemistry together,” Prevost said. “Today, everything was clicking and we were just passing off each other. It was great to be a part of that.”
Prevost got Wisconsin on the board first a mere three minutes into the game. Nash caught the Beavers napping on a long cross-ice outlet pass to Prevost at the far blue line. The sophomore forward then cut in alone on Bemidji State sophomore goaltender Alana McElhinney, faked a forehand shot, before tucking a backhander into the top corner.
“The goal came on one of my first shifts,” Prevost said. “It was the really important to get (Bemidji) back on their heels and get the crowd into the game.”
Four minutes later, the Badgers struck again to open a two-goal cushion. After Wisconsin forced a turnover by the Beavers’ bench, freshman forward Decker raced in and buried a shot past McElhinney.
Halfway through the second period Wisconsin extended the lead to three, this time on the power play. Freshman defenseman Saige Pacholok found senior forward Jasmine Giles wide open along the half boards. The Badgers’ captain one-timed the pass, which McElhinny got a piece of with her glove. However, the puck had eyes and squeaked through.
“We’ve been practicing that power play a little bit, so it’s nice that it finally worked,” Giles said. “Hopefully, I will just keep them coming.”
With four minutes left in the second period, the line of Decker, Prevost and Nash struck again, scoring in spectacular fashion. Another Bemidji State turnover in the neutral zone resulted in a three-on-one for the Badgers. Nash found Prevost on the left wing, who returned the puck across to Decker for a tap-in goal and a 4-0 Wisconsin lead.
“That goal reminded us of kind of the goal Hillary Knight, Erika Lawler and Angela Keseley would score all time, and this year it just hasn’t happened for us,” Prevost said. “Getting that goal on a tic-tac-toe kind of play was kind of a relief and it shows all the hard works been paying off.”
Through two periods Bemidji State struggled to get acclimated to the make-shift rink, managing only six shots on Wisconsin freshman goaltender Becca Ruegsegger.
In the third, the Beavers finally found their stride, unfortunately after the outcome of the game was decided. After Prevost found Nash to extend the lead to 5-0 with six minutes left, Bemidji answered on the first collegiate goal of freshman forward Jamie Hatheway’s career. Hatheway’s goal ended up on the scoresheet as unassisted, but fellow freshman forward Emily Erickson set up the play.
“Erickson fed me an awesome pass straight out in the slot,” Hatheway said. “I didn’t really look. I just kind of threw it in there.”
Wisconsin (16-10-3, 13-9-1 WCHA) added another late goal by Kyla Sanders to finish the scoring. The win was huge for the Badgers, as both teams were playing for league points, unlike the men playing later on. Wisconsin now moves into solo third place, two points clear of St. Cloud State.
“I think the fans probably forgot about the fact that it is a league game,” Prevost said. “If we lose it, that just puts us fourth or fifth place in our league. So we needed to come out with the win today to stay on top.”
Unable to gain ground, Bemidji State (8-14-7, 7-9-7) remains locked in a fifth place tie with Ohio State. The Beavers will be looking to salvage a split, as the teams move indoors Sunday afternoon.
“It was a unique experience for all of us playing in an outdoor setting and at Camp Randall,” Beavers’ coach Steve Sertich said. “But we wanted to focus on the fact that we needed some points, so hopefully we can come back tomorrow.”