Madison, Wis. – Senior forward Brianna Decker and freshman defenseman Courtney Burke combined for six points on Sunday afternoon as the Wisconsin women’s hockey team downed New Hampshire, 5-0, at LaBahn Arena. The Badgers earned the sweep against the non-conference opponent and improve to 5-3-2.
"I think any time you win it’s going to bode well for a lot of reasons," said head coach Mark Johnson. "The players feel good about themselves, because they played hard and got rewarded for their effort."
Alex Rigsby was perfect on the day, making a total of 21 saves in the contest, including 10 in the second period when New Hampshire outshot Wisconsin 10-9. The shutout is the first for the Badgers in LaBahn Arena and also the first for Rigsby and the Badgers of the year.
"If your goalie's playing well, she has be your best penalty killer,” Johnson remarked. “Back-to-back games Alex (Rigsby) played well and made a lot of key saves, so when you do that, it makes it a lot more challenging for the other team to score. "
Brianna Decker scored Wisconsin's first goal off a five-on-three power play opportunity halfway through the opening period. With a pass from Saige Pacholok and Burke up top, Decker was able to capitalize from the left faceoff circle to put the Badgers up 1-0. Decker has now scored in three consecutive games at LaBahn Arena.
In the second period, Burke netted her second goal of the season. After getting the puck from her D-partner, Jordan Brickner, Burke made a move around an UNH player to get open in the slot and sniped the puck past UNH’s goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara to give the Badgers a 2-0 lead.
The Badgers kept rolling in the second period with a goal from Madison Packer. With a shot from Pacholok, Packer deflected the puck into the right side of the net for her first goal at LaBahn Arena.
It wasn’t all offense in the second period, as the Badgers were outshot 10-9 and were forced to kill three penalties. Led by strong goaltending in net from Rigsby, the Badgers weathered the UNH offensive to keep the Wildcats scoreless.
Heading into the third with a 3-0 lead, Wisconsin continued to press, scoring two goals in the first seven minutes of the period.
Decker netted her second goal of the game, in similar fashion to her goal in Friday’s contest against New Hampshire. Decker pushed the puck in front of her off a face off at center ice, skated around the UNH center, and picked the puck back up for a breakaway. Without hesitation, Decker pulled the puck to her forehand side for her fourth goal in the past three games.
Karley Sylvester scored a power-play goal with assists coming from Decker and Burke. Burke took a shot from the left faceoff circle, and Sylvester crashed the net and found the rebound for the second-chance goal.
Wisconsin had three players with multi-point games. Decker and Burke recorded three points apiece and Pacholok recorded two assists.
The Badgers continue their homestand next weekend, Nov. 2 and 3, against Minnesota State. Both games are set to begin at 2 p.m.