VERONA, Wis. - Junior Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho) scored two goals as the top-seeded Badgers (32-2-2, 24-2-2-2 WCHA) defeated No. 8 seed St. Cloud State (1-33-1, 1-26-1-1 WCHA), 5-1, in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs at the Eagles Nest on Saturday night.
After topping the Huskies 9-3 in Friday's game, Wisconsin wins the best-of-three series and advances to the WCHA Final Face-off next weekend in Minneapolis.
The Badgers will face the winner of the series between No. 4 seed North Dakota and No. 5 seed Bemidji State in the semifinal round. The Fighting Sioux and Beavers will play the third game of their series Sunday afternoon after splitting the first two.
With the two goals, Knight extends her point streak to 20-straight games, tying the second-longest streak in program history. Sophomore Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) led all players with three points, and junior Carolyne Prevost added two on one goal and one assist.
Freshman Alex Rigsby (Delafield, Wis.) improved to 22-1-2 as the rookie goaltender stopped 16 of 17 shots. St. Cloud State's Ashley Nixon fell to 1-28-1 after allowing five goals on 38 shots, making 33 saves.
In a physical game that saw 13 total penalties, the Badgers were able to capitalize on one of their five opportunities with the man-advantage. St. Cloud State also went 1-for-5 on the power play, scoring their only goal of the night with the advantage in the third period.
Senior Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) gave the Badgers a 1-0 at the 5:35 mark of the first period after Decker sent a pass across the slot. UW then took a 2-0 lead on its second power-play of the game when Decker connected with Knight, who buried the game-winner with 10:56 left in the period.
The Badgers scored three goals in the second period, including unassisted tallies from Decker and Knight. Prevost added her 16th goal of the season between the two solo efforts, scoring off a feed from senior Mallory Deluce (London, Ontario) and sophomore Breann Frykas (East St. Paul, Manitoba) at 6:56.
St. Cloud State spoiled UW's shutout with a power-play goal at 13:24 of the third when Diana Karouzos scored off a feed from Molli Mott. The Badgers took five penalties in the final frame but limited the Huskies to just five power-play shots.
Wisconsin held a 38-17 advantage in shots for the game.
The WCHA Final Face-off is set for March 4-5 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota also won their respective three-game series to advance to the league tournament.