In a game that lacked flow at times, the Bauer-Macy-Cole combination provided all the spark the Badgers needed, combining for five goals, two on power plays, and 10 points in a 7-0 Wisconsin win, Friday afternoon at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin (6-1-0 overall, 4-1-0 WCHA), also received strong play in net, where junior Meghan Horras recorded 16 saves and improved to 4-0-0 with her second shutout of the season. Horras was tested as the Badgers survived some uncharacteristically sloppy play that gave St. Cloud opportunities at various points in the game.
A season-best crowd of 2,583 watched the performance on Kids Take Over the Kohl Day.
Wisconsin's top line was cause for comfort. Sophomore center Bauer recorded her second hat trick of the season and assisted on each of Macy's two goals. Junior wing Cole added three assists.
All told the Badgers peppered St. Cloud (2-5-0, 2-5-0) freshman goaltender Kendall Newell with 50 shots, including 21 in the second period alone. Oddly enough, Bauer, Macy and Cole combined for only 14 shots in scoring five goals. Bauer's three goals came on just four shots on goal.
"Sara worked on her shot this summer. She's just a good player," Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. "Lindsay has that knack of getting the puck in the net. Sharon really committed herself from a conditioning standpoint and she's skating very well."
Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead when Macy got behind the defense, deked to her backhand and beat Newell at 6:20.
The Badgers benefited from three first-period power plays, including two 5-on-3 advantages, and capitalized on one, getting Bauer's first goal at 10:45 when a centering pass intended for Macy deflected off a defenseman's stick and over Newell's shoulder.
Wisconsin had a number of opportunities to bust the game open in the first 20 minutes, but a few missed chances held the lead to 2-0, albeit momentarily.
Bauer backhanded the rebound of a Cyndy Kenyon shot over Newell for a 3-0 lead just 2:47 into the second period.
The Badgers dodged a bullet late in the first period, when a neutral zone turnover gave St. Cloud forwards Ashley Stewart and Carrie Holldorf a 2-on-1. Stewart carried the puck into the zone and put a shot on Horras. A turnover in front of the net gave Stewart a second chance but again Horras made the save.
There were other chances for the Huskies during a stretch in the middle of the second period. Defenseman Tina Ciraulo walked in for an uncontested shot after a turnover but could not solve Horras. Stewart had another 2-on-1 chance go awry, this time with wing Kristy Oonincx taking the shot.
"We addressed a couple of [the turnovers] in between the second and third periods," Johnson said. "We just want to make good habits….Normally we make right decisions but when we start putting the puck in the middle of the ice or not getting the puck in deep on the forecheck and [turning the puck over]…It's a work in progress."
Wisconsin, though, took a 4-0 lead when senior wing Jackie Friesen dropped a puck along the boards to junior center Nikki Burish at the point. Burish took two strides towards the circle and zipped a pass to junior wing Grace Hutchins in the low slot. Newell stopped the initially shot but Hutchins corralled her own rebound for her third goal of the season at 13:56 in the second.
On a power play late in the second period, Macy skated the puck to the front of the net and left it for Bauer, who lifted it over the crossbar. Bauer tracked the puck down behind the net, however, and found Macy above the crease for a 5-0 lead at 16:51.
Bauer scored on a wraparound early in the third to make it 6-0. Burish capped the scoring at 17:23 with an assist from Hutchins.
Wisconsin held St. Cloud without a shot on goal during a third-period 5-on-3 and Horras made a nice glove save late to preserve the shutout.
"We had one right at the end of the first period that she made a real nice save on and a couple in the third period… where she made nice saves," Johnson said. "Games where you get 30 or 35, 40 shots it is easy to stay involved. If you get spurts, those are tough. She did a good job."
Bauer now has a team-leading 10 goals and is tied with Macy for the team lead with 16 points. Cole has contributed three goals and seven assists this season.
The Badgers and Huskies will drop the puck again at 2:05 p.m. Saturday at the Kohl Center.