MADISON, Wis. -- A few remarkable saves in net by freshman Ann-Renée Desbiens and a flurry of goals in the second period propelled the No. 2 Wisconsin women’s hockey team to a 4-1 triumph over No. 4 North Dakota in front of a sellout crowd at LaBahn Arena on Sunday.
Making only her ninth collegiate start, Desbiens shut down the high-power UND offense, making 29 saves to improve to 9-1-0.
“The team improved every single shift and every single period,” Desbiens sad. “It was an amazing game, one we will look at. We improved a lot from yesterday, and it was a big win.”
After falling to UND 4-1 in yesterday’s contest, the Badgers entered the rink re-energized and re-focused, apparent in their control of the puck for the majority of the game.
“It was a hard-earned victory, and I give the players a lot of credit,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “They sucked it up and battled. It was two hard, competitive teams going at it, and we’re standing longer today than they are.”
The victory improves Wisconsin’s record to 17-3-2, 13-3-2-1 in the WCHA, while UND fell to 13-5-2 and 10-4-2-1 in WCHA play.
Junior Blayre Turnbull scored twice for UW in the win, marking her 10th goal and 22nd point of the season. Junior Katy Josephs scored the game-winner, bringing her season goal total to seven. Following suit was freshman Sarah Nurse, who scored her first short-handed goal in the effort.
North Dakota jumped out to an early lead as Michelle Karvinen knocked a hard shot past Desbiens 3:55 into the first period. Despite multiple offensive rushes that pressured UND netminder Shelby Amsley-Benzie, the Badgers could not even the score during the remainder of the period. UND outshot UW 12-5 in the first frame.
But Wisconsin brought the heat in the second, dominating the puck on both ends of the ice and tallying three goals in nine minutes. First to score for the Cardinal and White was Turnbull, who snagged a long pass from Josephs and sent a wrister to the back of the net to even the score early in the period.
But Josephs wouldn’t stop there as she beat a UND defenseman at the 9:02 mark to tip in junior Katarina Zgraja’s shot to give UW’s its first lead of the game.
The Badgers went on the power play two minutes later, but a miscue gave North Dakota a 2-on-0 rush opportunity. However, Desbiens made an acrobatic save that brought the crowd to its feet to keep the score at 2-1.
Minutes later, Nurse was able to capitalize on a short-handed opportunity, breaking away with the puck and sending it between the legs of Amsley-Benzie to record her first career short-handed goal and propel Wisconsin to the 3-1 lead it would close the period with. The Badgers outshot North Dakota 12-9 in the second.
A very physical third stanza resulted in two double penalty calls, landing members of both teams in the penalty box and leaving the rest to battle 4-on-4. UND was forced to pull its goaltender at the 18:53 mark, which fell during the second 4-on-4 segment. With 20 seconds remaining in the game, Turnbull managed to break loose with the puck and flicked it into the empty net, extending the Badgers lead to 4-1.
“It was certainly an entertaining hockey game,” Johnson said. “People who watched got to witness two hard, competitive teams going at it toe-to-toe. We challenged the team to compete for 60 minutes, and if you erase the first three or four shifts of the game, this victory is great for us.”
Wisconsin faces Bemidji State in a two-game conference series on the road next weekend. Both Friday and Saturday’s contests begin at 2 p.m.
“It should be a good series,” Desbiens said. “Bemidji State has improved since we played them, and it is an important series.”