MADISON, Wis. -- The University of Wisconsin Women's hockey team started the 2013-14 season on a high note, claiming a 3-0 triumph over Team Japan in an exhibition match at the LaBahn Arena Monday night.
This was the first match ever held between the Badgers and Team Japan, a team that will compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. UW head coach Mark Johnson said competing against a squad like Japan was a unique and valuable opportunity for Wisconsin, who held its first practice of the season on Saturday.
"Japan played hard through it and made things difficult in a lot of areas," Johnson said. "Having an exhibition game is much better than having practice because you can't duplicate what we went through tonight."
The Badgers challenged Japan goaltender Nana Fujimoto from the start, spending most of the first period on Japan's half of the ice. Wisconsin's strong offensive game continued as the Badgers netted one goal in each period. Wisconsin recorded 53 total shots while Japan recorded 28.
Senior and team captain Alex Rigsby started the game in goal for the Badgers and earned 12 saves before freshman Ann-Renée Desbiens replaced her halfway into the second period. Desbiens made 16 saves and played 33 minutes in her first appearance for the Badgers.
Senior Katy Josephs punched in the first goal off assists by redshirt junior Brittany Ammerman and senior Kelly Jaminski late in the first, putting Wisconsin up 1-0 heading into the second.
Senior Madison Packer continued the offensive strike, sneaking the puck past Fujimoto seven minutes into the second period off assists by Karley Sylvester and Erika Sowchuk.
Wisconsin's goal saw more action in the third, but Desbiens and the Badger defense held strong, forcing the shutout. Early in the period senior Brittany Ammerman turned and fired the puck from fifteen feet out and found the back of the net, putting Wisconsin up by three at the 5:05 mark.
The score when regulation time expired was 3-0, but the teams decided to continue the exhibition play with an additional overtime period and shoot-out. Neither team scored during the 5-minute overtime. Desbiens remained in goal for the Badgers as five players from each team were given a chance to score. Japan won the shootout 2-0.
Johnson said it was a good first showing for the team, but he is ready to begin the preparation for the next match on Oct. 4, when the Badgers will take on Minnesota State at the LaBahn Arena.
"We now have an opportunity to get some time to do some things to our system," Johnson said. "We will get better as time goes on and get some practice. You can show footage and start to break things down and really start weeding yourself forward. I'm happy we did it."
- Alex Rigsby earned the win stopping 12 shots in 31:39 minutes, while Ann-Renée Desbiens tallied 16 shots in 33:21 minutes of work.
- Five Badgers made their debuts as Ann-Renee Desbiens, Mellissa Channell, Sydney McKibbon, Sarah Nurse and Mikalya Johnson suited up for the Cardinal and White.
- UW opens the regular season on Oct. 4 at home vs. Minnesota State.