MADISON, Wis. - The top ranked Wisconsin women's hockey team skated off with its second-consecutive shutout Saturday as junior goaltender Breanna Blesi earned her first career shutout in the Badgers' 5-0 win over St. Cloud State in the series opener at LaBahn Arena.
The Badgers (24-2-1, 14-2-1-0 WCHA) immediately kicked it into high gear as sophomore Britta Curl sniped her first of two power-play one-timers past the Huskies (5-19-4, 1-17-1-0 WCHA) off junior Daryl Watts' pass just 2:27 into the game.
With three minutes to go in the first period, sophomore Sophie Shirley knocked in another goal behind Husky goaltender Emma Polusny with an assist by senior Alexis Mauermann to give the Badgers an early two goal lead.
Despite switching around the lineup, Wisconsin dominated possession from start to finish.
Junior Grace Bowlby sent a rocket into top shelf with 7:29 left in the second and junior Brette Pettet assist.
For her second power-play goal of the game, Curl flipped in a rebound from Watts and Shirley just a minute into the third period.
The action wasn't finished just yet as a second after the fourth Badger power play ran out, senior captain Mekenzie Steffen netted her sixth goal of the year to round out the scoring for Wisconsin.
Three notes of the game:
- Breanna Blesi made her second start of the season and finished out the first game of her career between the posts for the Badgers with 13 saves.
- With an assist on UW's final goal, Daryl Watts became the first Badger to record 60 points in a season since Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight and Brooke Ammerman all did so during the 2011-12 season. Her 60 points lead the country and are tied for 10th in school history.
- UW's power play percentage improved to a .363 as it continues to lead the nation and rank third for overall for power-play goals with 29. UW matched its power-play goal total from last season.
Straight from the Rink:
UW Head Coach Mark Johnson
On Breanna Blesi's performance:
"Everyone talks about wanting a chance and wanting an opportunity. Well, you work yourself to put yourself in that opportunity. Then it's about making that first save and once you get to that point, it's about getting comfortable and you have your teammates in front of you and that helps. Got out to a strong start and it was good, I was happy for her.
On Daryl Watt's reaching 60 Points:
"You might not always see it while watching the game but you look after at the stat sheet and she's got a couple assists, then she's making a few goals and then she's moving the puck and making these passes that help the puck get into the net."
Sophomore forward Britta Curl
On the game:
"We switched the positions around a little bit, so Abby and Darryl switched sides. I think we did a really good job of finding the seams across the ice."
Junior defenseman Grace Bowlby
On the game:
"I thought we did a good job getting pucks out, blocking pucks, getting our stick in any lane, picking up sticks. I don't think they really had too big of an opportunity to score on either of those power plays."
Junior goaltender Breanna Blesi
On her first full game:
"My team helped me put those (nerves) to bed. I've been dreaming about this for a very long time, and I've had a few opportunities here and there, like two periods here and two periods there, but none where I've played a full game at home where it's in the WCHA. I'm actually getting shots that are good chances, so it was really cool, and I can't even explain the energy that the team brought.
"I wanted the shot, and I was going to welcome it in. It was a cool feeling because I was never scared."
The Badgers take on the Huskies in the series finale Sunday afternoon at 2:07 p.m. The game is sold out, but fans can catch the action at BTN+ or FloHockey (subscription), on 1310 WIBA or via @BadgerWHockey Twitter.