Bringing out their Best

Tying its season high for goals scores, out shooting visiting Bemidji State 42-14 and giving up only 13 shots, it appears that the Camp Randall Hockey Classic was just what the doctor ordered for No.9 Wisconsin, as the Badgers dominated the visiting Beavers, 6-1.

MADISON - In the days leading up to the afternoon tilt in the Camp Randall Hockey Classic, Wisconsin women's hockey coach Tracy DeKeyser knew that while the match-up with Bemidji State gave her program an once-in-a-lifetime platform to showcase itself on a national scale, every conference point was essential in the race for home ice in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

Her team got the message, which allowed No.9 Wisconsin to enjoy its first outdoor game in style. The Badgers scored twice in the first 7:04 and out shoot the Bemidji State, 42-14, allowing Wisconsin to cruise to a 6-1 victory at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday afternoon.

"This was everything and more," said junior Kelly Nash, who scored the Badgers' fourth goal. "Coming from California, this is an experience you can't imagine. Everything was in our favor and we had to win this game."

The victory was the right start for a vital series for Wisconsin (16-10-3, 13-9-1 WCHA), as UW now leads Bemidji State (8-14-7, 7-9-7) by three points heading into the series finale Sunday at the Kohl Center.

"People forget that this is a league game and if we lose it, we fall to fourth or five place," said senior Jasmine Giles said. "We knew that a win today was important and we came out with it."

Although most of the expected crowd of 52,000 didn't arrive until midway through the third period, the Wisconsin women gave the diehards quite a spectacle. Receiving the puck to the right of her own goal, junior Kelly Nash threaded the needed to a wide-open Carolyne Prevost. Prevost registered a beautiful breakaway goal when she faked low, skated across Bemidji State goalie Alana McElhinney's face and backhaded the puck into the net at 3:07.

Brianna Decker doubled the lead at 7:04 when she fired a bullet from the right circle over McElhinney's right shoulder. Wisconsin out shot Bemidji State, 13-2, in the first period, and were just getting started, and finally got a kick from its special teams.

Struggling putting the puck in the net on the man advantage, converting just 14 percent of its chances (17-of-121), Giles got the Badgers a needed power play tally, sliding a shot under McElhinney's glove at 10:01 in the second.

"We got out there first period and we got a lot of shots off," Decker said. "That helped us out and gave us the game we wanted."

Although Wisconsin lost its top six scorers from last season's national championship squad, the remaining players still showed that they have some flare. On a 3-on-2 rush, Nash slid the puck cross ice to Prevost, who quickly fired to Decker, who had a wide-open net to score her second of the game and seventh in the past three games.

"We were ready to come out because we had been looking forward to this all year," Decker said. "We wanted to capture that excitement."

Nash and Sand senior Kyla Sanders capped the scoring for Wisconsin, who tied a season high with six goals. True freshman Becca Ruegsegger stopped 12 shots, only letting Jamie Hatheway to sneak a puck by her at 15:56 in the third period.

"When the final buzzer sounded, I was finally able to look around and go, ‘Wow, this is amazing,'" Ruegsegger said.

After going 5-7-2 in a series opener entering the weekend, it appears Camp Randall brought out the best in the Badgers. No wonder tomorrow's season finale at the Kohl Center doesn't seem as exciting anymore.

"I think we're going to be really hot," Giles said. "We're going to miss this."

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