Top-ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team rallies from two-goal deficit, beats Minnesota
Claudia Kepler had some Olympic inspiration from a former teammate for a goal that gave the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team a come-from-behind victory.
Kepler’s second goal of the third period and 20th of the season broke a tie in the top-ranked Badgers’ 4-3 victory over No. 7 Minnesota on Friday at LaBahn Arena.
She entered the zone on the left side after a pass off the boards from Abby Roque and snuck a shot high between Golden Gophers goaltender Sidney Peters and the near post.
Maybe you’ve seen the shot before: Former Badgers forward Sarah Nurse scored in the same way from a similar spot on the ice in Canada’s Olympic victory over the United States on Thursday.
“I saw Sarah Nurse do it in the Olympics so I thought I’d give it a try,” said Kepler, a Badgers senior co-captain. “That was pretty fun.”
The Badgers trailed 3-1 in the second period before launching a rally with Sam Cogan’s second goal of the game.
Kepler scored on the power play 32 seconds into the third and broke the deadlock with 5:58 remaining.
UW both trailed by two goals and allowed more than two goals for the first time in 15 games at LaBahn Arena, but the Badgers credited a sellout crowd of 2,273 for helping them back into the game.
“The momentum of the second period helped us keep pushing and pushing,” UW coach Mark Johnson said. “As we’ve all seen, when you get goals, especially at home, it creates a lot of energy among the building but also on your bench.”
Cogan and Kepler did a lot of the heavy lifting for the Badgers, who extended their home unbeaten streak to 27 games (26-0-1) since a loss to Minnesota on Dec. 3, 2016.
After the Gophers took a 2-0 lead on a pair of first-period goals by defenseman Sydney Baldwin, Cogan scored early in the second on a rebound.
Minnesota responded with a Grace Zumwinkle goal on a 3-on-2 rush 91 seconds later, sneaking a shot off Badgers goalie Kristen Campbell (12 saves) and in for the Gophers’ third goal on nine shots.
Despite challenges getting pucks past Gophers defenders and to the net, Cogan again cut the Badgers’ deficit to one later in the second by scoring off a scramble in front of the Minnesota net.
Kepler slotted home her own rebound from the top of the crease on the power play on the first shift of the third period to even the game.
“We knew that we were all over them, just working hard and doing well at forechecking,” Cogan said. “We knew we were going to get it as long as we did that.”
UW (28-3-2, 19-2-2-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) improved to 3-0 against the Gophers (20-9-3, 13-7-3) this season and can secure its first four-game regular-season sweep of its border rival in today’s series finale.
“We could have won — we probably should have won at times when you’re up two goals twice,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “You never like giving those away. ... It’s three games against the No. 1 team in the country and we lose by one goal. They’re finding ways to win and we’re not.”
The Badgers, who are 7-4-2 against the Gophers since going 18 games without a victory against them from 2011 to 2015, held Minnesota to a season-low 15 shots on goal while launching 38 against Peters.
“When we needed a power-play goal, boom, we got one,” Johnson said. “When we needed to defend well, especially in the neutral zone, we did that.”
Minnesota 2 1 0 — 3
Wisconsin 0 2 2 — 4
First period: M — Baldwin 11 (Wente, Zumwinkle), 11:05; Baldwin 12 (Woken, Piazza), 14:22. Penalty: Piazza, M, 7:46.
Second period: W — Cogan 8 (Pettet, Schneider), 2:03. M — Zumwinkle 14 (Schammel), 3:34. W — Cogan 9 (Pettet, Steffen), 13:58. Penalties: Norby, W, 10:39; Baldwin, M, 19:28.
Third period: W — Kepler 19 (Cogan, Roque), :32 (pp); Kepler 20 (Roque, Bowlby), 14:02. Penalties: Williams, W, 2:56; Piazza, M, 8:28.
Saves: M (Peters 8-9-17) 34; W (Campbell 6-1-5) 12. Power plays: M 0-for-2; W 1-for-3. Att. — 2,273.