MADISON, Wis. - Playing a strong defensive game, the Wisconsin women's hockey team earned its eighth shutout of the season downing No. 8 Minnesota Duluth, 2-0, on Friday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
The No. 1 Badgers improve to 21-2-2 (15-2-2-1 WCHA) on the season, while the Bulldogs drop to 12-10-1 (9-9-1-1 WCHA).
Alex Rigsby made 36 saves in her 21st win and fifth shutout of the season, while UMD's Jennifer Harss made 21 saves, giving up the two Badger goals.
"It was really exciting to come back to the Kohl Center and play here," Rigsby said. "It was also exciting to get a shutout against Minnesota Duluth who always wants to challenge us, so it was good game to come back to."
The game started with a defensive battle as neither team was able to get in a flow offensively. Even three early penalties did not affect play that much, as the Bulldogs only led 2-1 in shots on goal halfway through the first period. Minnesota Duluth finished the period with an 11-9 advantage in shots over the Badgers.
Despite the slow start, Wisconsin came out of the gates in the second period as Karley Sylvester grabbed an early rebound off a Bulldog shot and took the puck into the Badgers' offensive zone. Sylvester found Katy Josephs in front of the net but Harss made the save kicking the puck out to her left. Alev Kelter found herself at the right place at the right time, picking up Josephs' rebound and putting the puck over Harss' shoulder for the first goal of the day.
Two minutes later at the 4:56 mark, the Badgers tacked on their second goal of the day. Josephs teamed up with junior Jordan Brickner to get the puck out of a jumble of players in Wisconsin's offensive zone. Brickner dumped the puck into the corner and Madison Packer fought her way to the front of the net to slide the puck past Harss.
The remainder of the period saw a lot of back-and-forth play as both sides tried to gain momentum. The teams stayed aggressive with three more penalties added in the period.
"For whatever reason we never got a rhythm," head coach Mark Johnson said of the lack of flow in the game. "We got a couple good early scoring opportunities, took a penalty. Little things that can make a big difference in a game we didn't do very well in. The most important thing is that you end up winning the game. If you can learn from it, you're going to get better because of it. It's a process that we can take some things away, show some video tomorrow morning and come back with a better performance all around by everybody tomorrow afternoon."
Wisconsin defended its lead in the third period as the Bulldogs put Rigsby's glove to the test. UMD added 15 shots on goal in the final period, but Rigsby held onto the Badger shutout.
"They did shoot quite a bit at my glove side today," Rigsby said. "Today I felt like our defense did really well pushing them outside and they were just getting shots from the outside so it made my job a lot easier tonight."
The Badgers wrap up the series against the Bulldogs back at the Kohl Center tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m.