MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – Hockey games rarely go exactly the same way the following day, but that’s what occurred Sunday, Nov. 21 between the Wisconsin and St. Thomas women’s teams.
Just like Saturday afternoon, the top-ranked Badgers held a 1-0 lead after the first period and then got hot offensively in the second to put the game away early as Wisconsin (15-0-1, 11-0-1 WCHA) rolled to a 5-1 victory and a sweep of the Tommies (4-9-1, 2-9-1). Badgers goalie Jane Gervais had 13 saves in her first collegiate start, while Saskia Maurer had 60 for UST.
Even though it was another loss at home and another sweep, Tommies assistant coach Bethany Brausen said that her squad learned a lot from the previous day and carried it over to have a better performance.
“For our group, we keep talking about just kind of those incremental martial gains, 1 percent better every day,” she said. “We had some good preparation I felt like on the front end going into the first game and then in between, we just did some video review and talked a lot about taking away the middle of the ice.
"We did a pretty good job of that yesterday, but I think even better today, especially through the neutral zone. So that was a cleanup area for us. And then even just generating more chances. Just the shots on net and we were able to generate that way. Overall, I’m really happy with the performance.”
UW struck quickly as Brette Pettet snapped a shot from the slot that went off Maurer’s shoulder and under the crossbar to make it 1-0 at the 1:22 mark. The Badgers remained in control for the rest of the period and had a great chance to pad their advantage with under three minutes left, but Maurer denied Daryl Watts on a one-timer.
Then in the second, the Badgers started to show why they’re No. 1 as UW scored two goals 35 seconds apart. Casey O’Brien notched her 16th of the year, tucking the puck just under Maurer’s pad to make it 2-0 Badgers at the 2:52 mark and then Sophie Shirley tapped in a rebound to put UW up 3-0.
After Makenna Webster pushed the Badgers’ lead to 4-0 at the 8:11 mark after Maurer made three straight saves down low, the Tommies started to generate some offense. Maddie Jurgensen, who scored UST’s lone goal the day before, put up a nice backhand, but was stopped by Gervais. Patience paid off though for the Tommies on their next chance as Abby Promersberger got a pass from Maija Almich, paused for a second and then snapped a wrister past Gervais to get UST on the scoreboard at the 17:49 mark.
“We wanted to just get a little jump and change things up,” Brausen said. “So, we ended up kind of flip flopping a couple of the lines and just changing wing sets and it seemed to just give them a little bit of a spark."
Brausen said Anna Solheim is doing a good job drawing the attention of the defense on the back door. In this instance, the goaltender as well.
"Abby kind of was laughing as she came off on the bench because she’s like ‘Not a chance the goalie saw that.’ So, it is amazing. You can play the best goalie in the country, but if they can’t see the puck, it’s a pretty good indicator that all of a sudden, you might get a good chance there," Brausen said. "So, Abby did a good job being really patient, holding on to the puck, not just getting rid of it, picking a spot and finding a good one there.”
Unlike the first two, the third period was mostly quiet. The Badgers didn’t have many quality scoring chances and the Tommies were stifled at the other end of the rink by the UW blueliners. However, Sarah Wozniewicz livened up the Badgers fans with a goal at the 18:02 mark to complete the scoring.
The Tommies have another weekend off now and at this point in the season, Brausen is feeling positive about where they’re at.
"I talked to the team after and we’re holding them to 4-1 with 10 minutes left or something like that. And we’re just saying ‘Hey, if we get a second one, now we pull the goalie and it’s a two-goal game against quote-unquote the best team in the country. If we are in that spot a few months into program history, we’re feeling pretty good."
Besides the 4-9-1 record, Brausen said the teams wants to be pushed and compete.
"They want to find ways to win hockey games. I think that we just keep pushing the pace one game at a time, one practice at a time and keep focusing on those martial gains, one percent better every day. And I think that’s exactly what’s gonna happen down the stretch here.”
First period — 1. UW, Brette Pettet 4 (Watts, Shirley) 1:22.
Second period — 2. UW, Casey O’Brien 16 (Wheeler, Webster) 2:52; 3. UW, Sophie Shirley 5 (Bowlby, Wheeler) 3:27; 4. UW, Makenna Webster 14 (Wheeler, O’Brien) 8:11; 5. UST, Abby Promersberger 4 (Almich) 17:49.
Third period — 6. UW, Sarah Wozniewicz 8 (Posick) 18:02.
Power-play opportunities: UW 0 of 2; UST 0 of 2
Penalties: UW 2-4; UST 2-4
Goalie saves: UW, Jane Gervais 13 (1-11-1); UST, Saskia Maurer 60 (12-25-23)