MADISON, Wis. - Eight Badgers recorded points as the No. 1 University of Wisconsin women's hockey team concluded its season-opening eight-game homestand with a 6-1 win over Minnesota State at the Kohl Center Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) led the Badgers with two goals and one assist, and junior Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho) scored two goals. Junior Brooke Ammerman (River Vale, N.J.) and senior Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) each added one goal and one assist.
"We had a chance to really set aside this homestand by winning tonight," head coach Mark Johnson said. "That was the main goal, and now we've put ourselves in a good position."
Wisconsin (8-0-0, 6-0-0 WCHA) erupted for four goals over a 4:04 span early in the third period, beginning with back-to-back power-play goals from Knight and Duggan at 3:42 and 4:50, respectively.
Decker continued the third-period scoring barrage with an unassisted goal at the 6:54 mark. BSU goaltender Danielle Butters stopped Decker's first shot right off the faceoff, but the winger buried the rebound. Ammerman capped the 6-1 victory, scoring her second goal of the season with 12:14 remaining in the game.
"The biggest difference in the third period is that the puck went in," Johnson said. "I thought in the second period we created a lot of good opportunities, had some real quality grade-A chances, and their goaltender was making saves, very good saves. The big thing is not to get frustrated, as long as you are getting opportunities, eventually something's going to happen." Sophomore goaltender Becca Ruegsegger (Lakewood, Colo.) stopped 18-of-19 shots to improve to 4-0-0 on the season. Butters was credited with the loss for Minnesota State, finishing with 30 saves. Alli Altmann finished the game in goal for the Mavericks, making six saves in the game's final 12:14.
The teams skated to a 1-1 tie after the first period. Knight scored the Badgers' first goal at the 8:11 mark of the period when she intercepted a MSU pass in the slot and ripped a shot past Butters. Minnesota State responded with a goal by Lauren Smith at the 17:55 mark.
Decker scored the lone goal of the second period with 6:59 remaining in the frame. Duggan flicked a pass to junior Carolyne Prevost (Sarnia, Ontario) from behind the net, and Prevost quickly found Decker at the top of the crease. Decker netted her fifth goal of the season to give the Badgers the 2-1 lead before Wisconsin sealed the victory with four goals in the third period.
"We just found the fire in the third period," Knight said. "Sometimes in the game you get passes that are going your way. Their goalie played a heck of a first period. When a goalie's hot, there's not much you can do. Some pucks bounce in, some don't, and you take your chances when you have them."
The Badgers went 2-for-5 on the power play and held the Mavericks to 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
With the win, the Badgers tied the best start in program history with an eight-game winning streak. UW also started the 2008-09 campaign at 8-0-0 before tying Minnesota in their ninth game; Wisconsin was unbeaten in its first 21 games at 19-0-2 to start that season. The Badgers open their road season next weekend at Minnesota.
"We're excited to get on the road," Decker said. "We love the Kohl Center, but it's nice that we're going to the Gophers right away. We just have to make sure that we are ready to go on the road. We have some new people on our team that haven't played on the road yet, so the veterans are going to have to step up and show them how it's done."
Wisconsin and Minnesota (5-3-0, 2-3-0 WCHA) open the series at 6 p.m. Friday before wrapping it up at 4 p.m. Saturday at Ridder Arena.