Wisconsin struggled to kill penalties during its recent three-game losing streak, allowing five power play goals. Sunday, however, Wisconsin fended off back-to-back power plays late in the third period to hold off Ohio State, claiming a 3-1 win at the Kohl Center.
The Badgers (1-3-0 WCHA, 5-3-0 overall) were at a disadvantage for nearly four minutes after freshman forwards Lindsay Macy and Sara Bauer took minor penalties at 10:53 and 12:52 in the third period.
Trailing 2-1, Ohio State went (1-5-1, 1-5-1) on the power play having notched its lone goal with the man-advantage earlier in the third period. The Buckeyes kept the puck in the offensive zone for the bulk of the extended power play, but could not solve Wisconsin goaltender Christine Dufour and the Badgers defense.
"They scored once, but when we needed the penalty kill to come up late in the game it came up big for us," Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. "Those are good signs and hopefully we will continue to improve in those areas. The bottom line there is you have to stay out of the box too. You don't need to take two penalties in the last six or seven minutes of the game when you are only up one goal. That is part of being disciplined also."
Just three and a half minutes after the penalty to Bauer expired, Wisconsin junior forward Amy Vermeulen found the net for the first time this season, pouncing on a loose puck in the high slot and placing a low shot past Buckeye goaltender Melissa Glaser to give the Badgers a commanding 3-1 lead.
Dufour finished with 23 saves and was strong in net from start to finish. With Wisconsin leading 1-0 in the first period, Dufour made two very strong saves to keep the Buckeyes off the scoreboard. On the first, Ohio State junior wing Meaghan Mulvaney skated past Wisconsin's defensemen and cut to the crease, making a move to the short side. Dufour, though, moved across quickly and made a pad save.
Late in the first period Buckeye senior defenseman Emma Laaksonen pounced on a loose puck in the high slot and fired a slap shot toward the net. Dufour, though, snapped off a fine glove save, thwarting the scoring chance.
"She played very well, she stood out today," Johnson said. "It looked like she was very confident in there and composed and when we needed her to make some saves she made, especially the glove-hand save on Laaksonen in the slot was a very nice save."
Dufour, a freshman, has been rotating with sophomore netminder Meghan Horras.
"It is a building tool for [Dufour] and hopefully it is going to be a confidence builder from the standpoint that the next time she's playing the same way, giving us a chance to win," Johnson said.
The Badgers opened the scoring Sunday early in the first period when Meghan Hunter notched her first goal of the season, deflecting freshman defenseman Bobbi-Jo Slusar's point shot past Glaser.
Wisconsin took a 2-0 lead at the 11:59 mark in the second period when Jackie Friesen skated in front of the net and beat Glaser far side, putting a backhand shot over Glaser's outstretched glove. Hunter earned an assist on the play.
Mulvaney put Ohio State on the board early in the third period with a power play goal, but Dufour's shutout did not go by the wayside lightly.
Early in the power play, senior center Erin O'Grady, who played the point for the Buckeyes during the man advantage, placed a pass to Mulvaney on the backdoor. Dufour, though, was true to the challenge, making a strong pad save.
Ohio State, however, retained control of the puck and cycled it back to O'Grady, who again feathered a pass toward the crease. This time, Dufour could not slide over in time, and Mulvaney buried the backdoor opportunity.
Wisconsin's penalty kill, though, came out on top in the end.
"We are going to work on that some more this week and try to improve on it," Johnson said. "Try to get some of the younger players to understand that it is OK to be aggressive and not lay back and let them shoot the puck."
Badgers, Buckeyes shorthanded
Ohio State unexpectedly competed without its head coach Sunday. Jackie Barto left the Buckeyes bench during warm-ups prior the game due to a family emergency. Ohio State assistant and Madison-native Sue Kempf served as the Buckeyes' head coach in Barto's absence. Kempf played high school hockey at Madison Lafollette.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, played its first of three consecutive games without defenseman Carla Macleod, who departed Madison Sunday morning on her way to participating in the Four Nations Cup for the Canadian Senior National Team Nov. 5-9 in Sweden.
Score by period
Shots on goal by period
UW 1: Meghan Hunter (1) from Bobbi-Jo Slusar (3) at 4:05.
UW 2: Jackie Friesen (5) from Meghan Hunter (3) at 11:59.
OSU 1: Meaghan Mulvaney (2) from Tessa Bonhomme (3) and Erin O'Grady (2), PP at 3:11.
UW 3: Amy Vermeulen (1) from Jackie Friesen (1) and Sara Bauer (7) at 18:35.
OSU: Melissa Glaser (59:19), 29
UW: Christine Dufour (60:00), 23