MADISON, Wis. - Freshman Britta Curl's clutch power-play goal at the 12:52 mark of the third period helped push the No. 2 Wisconsin women's hockey team to a 4-2 series-opening win over No. 4 Minnesota Duluth at LaBahn Arena.
Curl, senior Annie Pankowski, junior Presley Norby, and junior Abby Roque all scored for Wisconsin (5-0-0, 0-0-0-0 WCHA) to lead UW to its first win in WCHA play
UW scored twice in the opening period to build an early 2-0 lead. Norby and Pankowski buried two rocket shots at the 3:54 and the 13:24 marks of the first that got UW fired up early.
Despite a relentless attack from Wisconsin's offense in the second period, Minnesota Duluth (2-2-1, 0-2-1-1 WCHA) scored twice to tie the game up.
Play remained deadlocked at two for over through most of the third period until Curl tipped Pankowski's point shot for a clutch power-play goal with seven minutes left in the game to give UW a 3-2 lead.
Roque would add her fourth goal of the season with 4:04 left in the game to seal a 4-2 opening-series victory over the Bulldogs.
Play of the Game
Curl recorded her first career game-winning goal midway through the third period as the Bismarck, North Dakota, native tipped in a Pankowski rocket from above the left circle to beat Olympic gold medalist Maddie Rooney.
Three Notes of the Game
- The Badgers improved their dominant home unbeaten streak to 32 games.
- UW moved to fourth in the country in power-play percentage in the country with a .316 clip. The Badgers have had the most power-play goals of any school in the country with six.
- Wisconsin outshot UMD, 44-16, marking the fourth time this year UW has garnered more than 40 shots on goal. UW also held a 20-2 advantage in the final period.
Straight from the Rink
UW Head Coach Mark Johnson
On the Game:
"I thought we played a pretty good game. We were playing against a great goaltender and we had great opportunities. They were hanging around and all of a sudden it was 2-2. Heading into the third period it was a 20-minute game, looking for opportunities, making sure we didn't make a mistake and capitalizing in the first power play. Overall it was good, we shortened up the bench a little bit, moved the lines around, and changed the power play around, so it was a big win."
On not letting up in the third period:
"I just wanted to see how they would respond. Here was a good challenge for us. It was a 20-minute hockey game. I wanted to keep the pace up as much as we could. The biggest thing for us against this team was to take care of the neutral zone and not have any turnovers."
Senior forward Annie Pankowski
On how the team played today:
"I'm really proud of the way this team responded. A big player like Emily (Clark) goes down and it feels like we didn't skip a beat. We had a couple other shifts and then Presley (Norby) came up huge and got that first goal and got our wheels turning there."
"Minnesota Duluth didn't give up on us, they gave a good game, and these guys too battled back in the second period, so I think that kind of resistance is good for this team in learning to manage an entire game and not just a couple periods."
Freshman forward Britta Curl
On her power play goal from Pankowski:
"The coaches were really stressing just getting the puck to the net, because then there's going to be a rebound or a tip, so just trying to get bodies in front of the goalies eyes and it worked out. "
On the overall game:
"Right from the puck drop it was really high intensity and the crowd was awesome and a lot of energy in the building. It was just a blast and everyone had fun tonight."
The Badgers close out the series against the Bulldogs on Sunday with a 2 p.m. showdown at LaBahn Arena.