MADISON, Wis. - Sophomores Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) and Stefanie McKeough (Carlsbad Springs, Ontario) led the No. 1/2 Wisconsin women's hockey team to a 6-5 overtime win over No. 10/9 Ohio State in a physical, high-scoring battle at the Kohl Center on Friday night.
Decker led the Badger offense, earning her second career hat trick. Her third goal was the game-winner in overtime to seal the victory after the Badgers fought back from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 deficits. Decker netted three of Wisconsin's final four goals in the six-goal effort.
McKeough also played a crucial role in UW's win, scoring her first two goals of the season, and freshman goaltender Alex Rigsby (Delafield, Wis.) made a career-high 17 saves.
"Tonight's game was a good character builder," head coach Mark Johnson said. "When OSU made it 4-2, the easiest thing for us to do early in the season would be to sulk a little bit, but we kept coming and coming and got some momentum. It was nice to get the lead. It was a good victory."
Wisconsin (5-0-0, 3-0-0 WCHA) trailed 4-2 at the start of the third period after outshooting Ohio State 33-13 over the first two frames.
"(After the second period) Coach came in and gave a good speech," Decker said. "He just said to keep taking it to them. We kind of relaxed in the locker room. We weren't nervous, and we knew we still had a chance to win the game. We came out focused, knowing that we had to get one in the first 10 minutes."
Wisconsin came out strong in the third as Decker tallied her first of three goals on an unassisted effort at the 5:40 mark of the period. She scored her second-straight goal to tie the game at 4-4 midway through the frame. McKeough then gave the Badgers their first lead of the game, 5-4, with 9:05 remaining in the contest.
UW held off the Buckeyes until the final minute, but Ohio State's Hokey Langan netted her third goal of the season to knot the score, 5-5, with one minute remaining. With an empty OSU net, Langan buried a pass from Minttu Tuominen and sent the game to overtime.
Decker completed her hat trick and sealed the victory for the Badgers 2:08 into overtime. Senior Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) earned her second assist of the night on the play.
"We can take some things away from this game and teach some things that will make us a better hockey team," Johnson said. "The bottom line is that we did what we needed to do to win. I told the team, if they kept coming and kept creating those opportunities, eventually things would go in their favor."
Ohio State (4-1-0, 2-1-0 WCHA) took a 2-0 lead on two power-play goals by Natalie Spooner, who tallied her sixth goal of the season just 2:39 into the game. Spooner then gave OSU the 2-0 lead 39 seconds into the second period.
McKeough put UW on the board when she netted her first goal of the season and cut the Buckeyes' lead to one at the 3:42 mark of the second stanza. Ohio State's Laura McIntosh restored the visitors' two-goal lead at the 5:11 mark, but senior Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) quickly responded 15 seconds later to make it 3-2.
The Buckeyes scored their fourth-straight power play goal when Kim Theut tallied her first goal of the season on a feed from McIntosh at the 17:46 mark of the period, and the teams headed into the second intermission with Ohio State leading 4-2.
OSU finished the game 4-for-7 with the man advantage, while Wisconsin was 0-for-4 on the power play. The Badgers outshot the Buckeyes, 50-22, in the game.
Freshman goaltender Lisa Steffes made 44 saves to lead OSU. Laura McIntosh had one goal and three assists, and Langan recorded one goal and two assists. Spooner finished the game with two goals.
The Badgers and Buckeyes wrap up the series Saturday night at the Kohl Center. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.