MADISON, Wis. -- In another close battle between the No. 8 UND women’s hockey team and the No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers, the Fighting Hawks fell just short again, dropping a 3-1 decision on Sunday afternoon at LaBahn Arena.
With the two losses on the weekend, it marks the first time this season that UND has suffered a sweep. UND is now 13-8-3 (10-7-3-1 WHCA) on the season, while Wisconsin moves to 24-1-1 (18-1-1-1 WCHA).
Even with the losses, North Dakota held the Badgers to an even goal differential throughout the regular-season series, scoring four and only conceding four to Wisconsin -- the Badgers have been outscoring their opponents this season by an average of 3.42 goals per game. UND also held the Badgers power-play to 1-for-11 (.091) throughout the four games.
Just like the day before, the game looked as if either side could come out victorious. Wisconsin only held a slight advantage in shots on goal, out-shooting UND 34-28. However, unlike yesterday, special teams became more of a factor as only one of the four goals was scored at even strength.
After a strong first period that saw neither team find the back of the net, Wisconsin’s Sarah Nurse broke the stalemate with less than three minutes remaining in the second period.
Undeterred, North Dakota responded quickly in the third period after receiving a power-play opportunity in the first minute. Moving the puck around in front of the net, a rebound was kicked out to the left side of the goal, and senior forward Becca Kohler pounced on it to score her 10th goal of the season.
With the scored tied in the first two minutes of the third period, the two sides resumed the stalemate that had plagued the first 38 minutes.
Unfortunately, UND was assessed a minor penalty in the final two minutes of the game and Wisconsin used the opportunity to score its first power-play goal of the season against UND; giving the Badgers a 2-1 lead with just 1:22 to play.
In the final minute of play, UND pull goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie for an extra attacker. However, Wisconsin would find the back of the empty net to secure the 3-1 win.
Amsley-Benzie was stellar in net for the Fighting Hawks, making 31 saves against the Badgers. She ended the weekend with a total of 62 saves. On the other end of the ice, Badgers’ goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens made 27 saves in the winning effort.
North Dakota returns home next weekend to host Minnesota State, Jan. 29-30.