MADISON, Wis. — Trailing 2-1 with less than a minute remaining, things did not look good for the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers. However, senior Meghan Duggan scored the game-tying goal with 25 seconds remaining and sophomore Brianna Decker notched the game-winner just 10 seconds into overtime as Wisconsin topped No. 4 Minnesota Duluth, 3-2, in overtime at the Kohl Center Friday afternoon.
The Badgers (12-1-0, 8-1-0 WCHA) rallied with three unanswered goals after trailing 2-0 after the first period. Decker scored two goals, including the game-winner, and junior Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho) picked up two assists. Duggan also registered her ninth-straight multi-point game, with one goal and one assist.
“It was a good hockey game, very entertaining, a lot of shots and goal productions,” coach Mark Johnson said. “If you look at the statistics, it was pretty even on both sides. As we indicated prior to the game, and I’m sure [UMD head coach] Shannon Miller said the same thing, we have two good teams and the fans are going to be entertained.”
Freshman netminder Alex Rigsby made a career-high 37 saves to improve to 8-0-0 on the season. The Bulldogs outshot the Badgers, 39-38, and Minnesota Duluth goaltender Kim Martin stopped 35 pucks.
UMD (9-4-0, 7-4-0 WCHA) received first-period goals from Brienna Gillanders and Pernilla Winberg. The Bulldogs capitalized on a five-on-three power play when Gillanders solved Rigsby at the seven-minute mark of the period off assists from Elin Holmlov and Jocelyne Larocque.
The visitors extended their lead to 2-0 on a goal from Winberg at the 11:45 mark. Holmlov picked up her second assist of the game, and Haley Irwin recorded the secondary helper.
Wisconsin gained momentum with a power-play goal by Decker early in the second period. Sophomore Saige Pacholok found Duggan behind the net, and she fed a pass to Decker in the slot. Decker tallied her eighth goal of the season to cut UMD’s lead to one.
“I think we put them on their heels,” Decker said of the Badgers’ early goal in the second period. “The whole third period, nothing was really happening, but we knew we had to fight until the end. After we got that goal, it just carried over into overtime.”
UMD held the 2-1 lead late in the third period, and the Badgers pulled Rigsby for the extra attacker with 45 seconds remaining. Knight sent a pass to senior Geena Prough at the point, and Prough fired a shot towards the net. Duggan tipped Prough’s shot past Martin for the game-tying goal at the 19:35 mark of the third period.
Wisconsin only needed 10 seconds of overtime to secure the victory. Decker won the opening faceoff back to senior Anne Dronen who then found Knight outside the UMD blue line. Knight skated the puck up the boards before centering a pass to Decker, who buried the game-winner.
“As I’ve always said that every game is a learning experience,” Johnson said. “You find out a little more about your hockey club. We found out some things today. Kim [Martin] down in their end was very good, and certainly Alex [Rigsby] probably had her best game of the year. Those are very positive things you take away from the game.
“There are 60 minutes in a hockey game, and sometimes you have to go the full distance to give yourself an opportunity to win. We were able to do that tonight by pulling our goalie and giving ourselves a chance there at the end.”
The Badgers and Bulldogs return to action at the Kohl Center to wrap up the series at 2 p.m. Sunday.