A plucky Minnesota State stretched #1 Wisconsin to the distance, but the Badgers were able to score a late power play goal to break a 2-2 tie and escape the first game of their series in Mankato with a 3-2 victory.
9:39 Makenna Webster from Grace Bowlby 1-0 Wisconsin
Bowlby made a long stretch pass to Webster at the far blue line for a breakaway, which Webster scored five-hole.
15:47 Sydney Langseth from Tristan Truax and Claire Butorac 1-1 tie
Butorac rushed the puck up the left wing and made a pass to Truax, who had joined the rush as a defenseman. Truax passed the puck over to Langseth on the right side for the goal.
15;52 Casey O’Brien from Britta Curl and Grace Bowlby 2-1 Wisconsin
Curl took a pass from Bowlby on the left half-boards. Curl faked a shot then skated around an MSU defender to take a shot on goal. The initial stop was saved by Frank, but O’Brien was on the doorstep to put away the rebound.
Nice play by Britta Curl to walk the defender and Casey O'Brien cleans up for her first collegiate goal. 2-1 Wisconsin, late second period. pic.twitter.com/Q8Feadtmx2— Chris Dilks (@ChrisDilks) January 2, 2021
10:26 Brittyn Fleming unassisted 2-2 tie
Fleming collected a turnover just outside the Badger blue line. She skated into the zone and her wrist shot leaked through Badger goalie Kennedy Blair.
16:45 Daryl Watts from Sophie Shirley and Grace Bowlby (power play) 3-2 Wisconsin
Bowlby took a shot from the point that was deflected by Shirley in front of the net. The puck bounced to Watts, who batted home the lose puck.
Notes and Thoughts
-Another promising effort with no result to show for it for Minnesota State. Wisconsin finished the game leading 30-20 in shots, but it was a very even game, despite the Mavericks being without the services of their top player in Jamie Nelson.
They fought back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period to tie the game up at two, and had two spectacular second chance opportunities to take a 3-2 lead that they just missed on converting.
Then, the Badgers got what I though was an extremely soft power play opportunity—though the officials had called the game very loose up to that point, which probably benefited the Mavericks in total—and were able to convert to take the lead.
It certainly felt like a game where Minnesota State could have stolen a point, if not won outright, which is another positive sign, but won’t do much to help them in the standings.
-Wisconsin probably has the deepest group of the forwards in the country, even with freshman Maddi Wheeler out today. But I think there are some serious concerns about their defense. They’ve been without senior Natalie Buchbinder so far this year, but even with her in the line-up, I don’t think this is a classic Wisconsin defensive group that can throw three great pairings out.
They could also probably use some more help from their forwards. Minnesota State was able to get through the neutral zone too easily today, and unlike some previous iterations, this Minnesota State team has enough speed that they can attack off the rush.
-Sometimes one shift can change a game, even if nothing necessarily happens at the time. With about seven minutes left in the second period, Minnesota State—which had done a solid job of breaking the puck out of their zone to that point—made a couple sloppy passes that resulted in a very long shift inside their own zone. They were able to survive that stretch and get a whistle, but that extended zone time turned the momentum in Wisconsin’s favor and they were able to establish themselves in the MSU zone for the first time in the game. Three shifts later, the Badgers were able to score to take a 2-1 lead.