MADISON, Wis. — On a night where both Wisconsin and its opponent Lindenwood made history, it was the Badgers who left the ice reliving their storied past.
After enduring a slow start Wisconsin poured in seven goals in the second period before routing the Lions 11-0 Friday night in Lindenwood’s first ever Division I game.
“A lot of good things happened tonight for us even though we were playing a little shorthanded,” said Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson, who saw his team extend its unbeaten streak to 28 games. “It was a very competitive game and we were excited to host them [in their first game].”
The Badgers showed rust in the early going, perhaps stemming from an elaborate pregame ceremony where Wisconsin unveiled its fourth national championship banner in six years.
In fact it was the upstart Lions who registered the game’s first shot. When the Badgers took their game up a notch, Lindenwood freshman goaltender Taylor Fairchild withstood most of the onslaught, eventually making 49 saves in the loss.
Wisconsin finally got on the board 13 minutes into the first period when senior forward Brooke Ammerman cashed in a rebound of junior forward Brianna Decker’s initial shot. Despite a 16-2 shots advantage for the Badgers, Ammerman’s tally was only goal they managed in the opening 20 minutes.
Decker made it 2-0 just over four minutes into the second period when she snapped home a short side wrap-around shot underneath Fairchild’s right arm.
Even at that point, Lindenwood continued to skate with the Badgers until Brittany Ammerman’s backbreaking goal near the game’s halfway point. Sprung by a one-handed pass from teammate Lauren Unser, the sophomore forward buried a breakaway chance for a 3-0 Wisconsin advantage.
Wisconsin added five more goals before the second-period buzzer sounded as the floodgates opened up on the Lions. Decker, Brooke Ammerman, freshman Karley Sylvester, Kelly Jaminski and Hilary Knight all contributed to the 8-0 Badgers lead.
“Tonight was an eye opener,” Lindenwood coach Vince O’Mara said. “The first few minutes we were with them, but our girls saw the commitment level needed to compete [for 60 minutes] at this level.”
Knight’s goal was her 113th for the Badgers, extending her team record. Meanwhile, Sylvester picked up her first career marker off a one-timed pass from fellow first-year forward Blayre Turnbull.
“It means a lot to get my first goal,” Sylvester said. “All of us freshmen were fighting nerves, but we got rid of them after our first shifts with all the playing time we got tonight.”
Wisconsin (1-0) added three goals in third period, including freshman defenseman Katarina Zgraja’s first college goal, the second career tally for junior forward Lauren Unser and Jaminski’s second of the night (also her second career goal).
For the Lions (0-1), Friday night proved to be a tough learning experience for a club which featured 11 first-year skaters in its lineup. However, the final result did little to tarnish a special night for the team, which made history by becoming the first Division I women’s hockey program from Missouri.
“It was a great honor for Wisconsin to open up their schedule and allow us to come up here and play them on the night they unveiled their banner,” O’Mara said. “Hopefully in the near future we can make a name for ourselves and the get the St. Louis community to rally behind us.”