MADISON, Wis. -- Despite a slow start, the No. 2 Wisconsin women’s hockey team overcame an aggressive Ohio State attack to defeat the Buckeyes, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at LaBahn Arena.
After a tough first period that left the Badgers (7-2-0, 5-2-0 WCHA) trailing the No. 10 Buckeyes (3-2-1, 2-2-1) by a goal, Wisconsin brought the heat during the next two stanzas. Four different players scored for the Badgers on assists from five different teammates, providing an offensive attack that proved too much for Ohio State’s defense.
Junior Blayre Turnbull and freshman Sydney McKibbon each tallied power play goals during the second period. In the third, senior Madison Packer and redshirt junior Brittany Ammerman each added a goal to earn the 4-1 victory.
“Special teams, whether it’s the penalty kill or power play, can certainly win you hockey games. So today, when we needed to score, we capitalized on it,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “We’re getting pucks to the net. Pucks are going in, so hopefully it continues to be that way.”
Ammerman tallied her seventh goal of the year, which leads the Badgers. Turnbull, with her seventh assist of the year, is now tied with Ammerman for the team lead.
Claudia Kepler put the Buckeyes on the board early on with the only goal of the first period, sneaking the puck past UW goaltender Alex Rigsby just 28 seconds into the game. Trailing at LaBahn Arena for the first time this season, the Badgers entered the second period down 1-0 but with 1:40 of a power play remaining.
Turnbull took advantage of the 5-on-4 opportunity, sending a far wrister into the back of the net to even the score just 30 seconds into the second period. McKibbon followed suit, receiving a pass from freshman Sarah Nurse in front of the crease before twirling and sliding the puck past OSU goaltender Chelsea Knapp on another UW power play to score her second career goal.
The goals marked Wisconsin’s tenth and eleventh power play goals of the season and awarded the Badgers a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame. The team outshot the Buckeyes 19-8 in the second period after recording only one more shot than OSU in the first.
The third period belonged to the Badgers both offensively and defensively. Packer lit the lamp 4:25 into the period, tallying her third goal of the season. Ammerman continued the offensive strike soon after, pushing the puck past Knapp after a shot bounced off the goaltender’s pads. The efforts gave the Badgers the 4-1 lead they would finish with, as well as some confidence Johnson hopes will carry over into the rest of the season.
“It’s a growing process, so as you have success, the kids grow individually and it helps their confidence, as well as makes them better players,” Johnson said. “For five of the games we’ve played really well now, and we’ve won five good games. We’ve got a chance to do the same thing tomorrow, and if you come out with the same effort and you’re consistent in that effort, usually you’ll get rewarded for it.”
Rigsby recorded 24 saves in the contest and improved her season record to 5-2-0. Her 88 career wins are second in Wisconsin history, and the senior captain only needs three to tie Jessie Vetter’s school record of 91.
Wisconsin concludes its series against Ohio State tomorrow at LaBahn Arena at noon.