MADISON, Wisc. - After a fast-paced 60 minutes of play, Wisconsin found itself in its fourth overtime game in four weeks, earning the 3-2 win on Friday night at the Kohl Center. Madison Packer scored her first career game-winning goal to give the Badgers their third overtime win of the season.
Wisconsin is now 23-2-2 (17-2-2-1 WCHA) on the season, while Bemidji State drops to 14-11-3 (8-11-2-0 WCHA). Alex Rigsby earned her 23rd win of the season with 39 saves in the OT win. Bemidji State's Zuzana Tomcikova made 35 saves while giving up three goals.
In the fifth overtime period of the season, Wisconsin stole the puck and brought it into its offensive zone. Brittany Ammerman made a great pass across the zone to Brianna Decker, who then skated toward the slot. After looking for an open shot, Decker slid the puck to Packer at the last second who found an opening past Tomcikova for Wisconsin's third OT on the year.
"They really brought it to us," Decker said. "We knew they were going to come out and work hard. They have a great goaltender, and I think both of those things showed tonight. I think we got out-worked a little bit. We're going to have to come out tomorrow and work hard."
Wisconsin put the first point on the board despite an early man advantage for BSU. With 30 seconds left in a Beaver power play, UW broke up possession and moved the puck into the offensive zone. Carolyne Prevost fed a pass to Decker in front of the net and the Badger junior slid the puck past Tomcikova for her first shorthanded goal of the season.
The period continued at a fast pace, but neither team was able to get control of the puck. At the 16:58 mark in the second period, Wisconsin tacked on its second goal when Alev Kelter snagged the puck away in front of the Badger net and found Brooke Ammerman for the outlet. Looking for an open shot, Ammerman skated across the front of the net in the slot and made a pass to Prevost who found the back of the net to push the Badger lead to 2-0.
The Beavers closed the deficit less than two minutes later on a fluke goal off a dump in by BSU's Erika Wheelhouse deep behind the blue line. The puck took a weird hop off Rigsby's glove and fell just inside the goal line.
"It was probably the flukiest goal that has gone in this year, they happen," Rigsby said of the goal. "It was kind of unfortunate. It was just a shot from out far and it hit my shoulder and was going really high so I kind of just lifted up on it and it popped up and over and I almost had it before it crossed the line, but I think it just crossed."
In the third period, Bemidji State would equalize off a double-rebound opportunity while on the power play. BSU's Mackenzie Thurston took a slap shot from the point and Rigsby made the save as the rebound went back to her right. Rigsby recovered making the second save on Kristen Huber, but the rebound went to the far side and Whitney Wivoda put the puck into the net, making the score 2-2.
The sporadic play continued as both teams fought for the lead, but neither team was able to connect as the clock wound down in regulation.
The Badgers wrap up the weekend series tomorrow night in their third annual "Fill the Bowl" game. Admission is $1 and free to UW students as Wisconsin attempts to break the NCAA single-game attendance record. The game will begin at 7 p.m. back at the Kohl Center.