As soon as the puck dropped Saturday afternoon at Ridder the Gophers raced into the Badgers’ zone. However, Wisconsin flew back the other way and Presley Norby shot from the right side, which Sophia Shaver tipped past goaltender Sidney Peters into goal. Mikaela Gardner had the second assist on the goal, which came just 33 seconds into the game. Minnesota wasn’t about to let that stand and Kippin Keller spearheaded the assault on Kristen Campbell. This only ended when Campbell deflected Keller’s wraparound attempt and Lindsay Agnew caught the rebound, which quickly turned into a goal from the doorstep at 3:37. Emily Brown had the second assist.
The game then settled into a lot of back and forth with few direct shots from either side for several minutes. This stayed the course until Brette Pettet gave Abby Roque the puck, Roque broke into Minnesota’s zone on the right side and made a long pass to Baylee Wellhausen for the scoring shot close to goal on the left side at 7:41. Keller made another great attempt on Wisconsin’s goal and Sophie Skarzynski did the same, but most of the period was spent in Minnesota’s zone with the Badgers hassling Peters. The best chance for the Gophers to tie it up again first period came in the last minute when Patti Marshall put a blast on goal from the left point and Skarzynski tried to tip it in, but the puck just barely slid past on the outside of the post.
While Caitlin Schneider and Presley Norby both had solid chances early in the second period, the Gophers were finally playing the way they wanted. There was a lot of puck chasing to either end of the rink. Then Lauren Williams took a slightly delayed interference penalty at 3:52. Minnesota got the puck cycling, but only managed one shot and the power play harmlessly expired two minutes later. Other than a disappointing use of the power play, Minnesota suppressed Wisconsin’s offense for most of the period, save for a couple of extended flurries near the end of the period where Peters had to make some last second saves, including an Alexis Mauermann wraparound attempt in the dying moments of the period.
Cara Piazza and Brown’s efforts nearly tied things at the beginning of third period, however a quick toe save by Campbell kept Wisconsin in the lead. Then for the first of three times Campbell knocked the net off its moorings. It always came off on the side right of the goaltender and never appeared to need much force to be dislodged. I was right behind her for the period and while the first time was obviously a surprise, she genuinely didn’t appear to notice the second time she knocked it off its pegs, as Campbell was focused on covering the puck sliding toward her on the left side thanks to Alex Woken—only after which play was whistled down. As for the third time, the net came off when she hit it with her shoulder while standing up to take a Gopher shot and the crowd booed her fiercely as they assumed it was intentional, though the referees did not. I can’t speak one way or the other on the third one, but believe the first two were unintentional, especially as Campbell spent some time shifting around her crease and examining the posts during the delay after the second time she knocked the net off its moorings.
Before the controversial third net dislodgement, Maddie Rolfes made a trip to the box for interfering with Piazza on the left side of Wisconsin’s zone at 5:14. Minnesota put some dangerous shots on goal, including a Taylor Wente shot off Campbell’s mask, before Piazza flew down the left side, passed to Skarzynski, and she shot from the right circle high into goal at 6:54. Sydney Baldwin had the second assist on this tying power play goal. This renewed Minnesota’s vigor and they attacked with earnest. A Nicole Schammel shot was just barely stopped by Campbell’s leg pads. However, a hooking penalty taken by Brown at 10:19 hampered their efforts, though Minnesota did kill it off.
Rolfes made a right point shot, which went wide of goal, but Norby caught it and knocked it backwards into goal at 14:44. Woken nearly scored from the top of the crease and a little later it was another toe save that kept Minnesota from tying the game a third time. Then Campbell had the third controversial net dislodgement and Woken made another attempt, but couldn’t find the back of the net before the final buzzer sounded. Minnesota fell Wisconsin 2-3 after outshooting them 27-17.
Sunday Minnesota had a much stronger first period. The teams spent most of the period dashing across the ice, causing chaos in both zones, and generally proving they were ready for a rougher game than the previous one. Brown put a decent shot on Campbell before getting tangled up with a Badger and a little later Maddie Rowe’s shot deflected off Peters’s pad to the glass. Then a Badger took Agnew into the boards with a resounding crack that boomed through the arena, but no call, which left the crowd and the Gophers upset. Schammel was clearly so annoyed with this that during the next play she hacked Shaver’s stick out of her hands and went to the box for slashing at 12:56. Wisconsin was on Minnesota’s crease for most of the power play and at one point it seemed that everyone on the ice was lying in the crease with the puck loose, but the Badgers were unable to convert. In fact, no one did first period.
Caitlin Reilly had a great chance right off puck drop second period. There was a brief Badger blitz that included a couple of shots that left Peters on the ice before it could be cleared and then Keller made an unsuccessful run at Campbell. Olivia Knowles took a cross-checking penalty at 6:28 and while there was some shoving at Minnesota’s crease and puck cycling in their zone, they killed the penalty. Instead it was when Sam Cogan was allowed to come in a little right of the middle and make a lateral pass to Mauermann for a goal at 9:33.
Williams then tripped Woken and went to the box at 10:33. Minnesota nearly scored right off the face off, but Campbell made the save. She was unable to repeat it though when a Marshall pass from the blue line found Grace Zumwinkle and she fired from the left circle into goal at 10:49, high on the stick side. Schammel had the second assist. Minnesota was on fire after that and spent the rest of the period trying to pull ahead for the first time in the series. Quite a few bodies hit the ice as they careened madly about, including Zumwinkle after she got tangled up in Williams and it wasn’t until play was whistled down that she was able to get up.
Third period started with the Badgers buzzing and Claudia Kepler nearly scored via the 5-hole. Wisconsin threw everything they had at Peters and Minnesota did the same to Campbell as tempers shortened on both sides. When Gardner raced up to Peters after a save three Gophers shoved her back before she could reach the goaltender. Then Mauermann tossed Baldwin, much to the crowd’s anger and a moment later Gardner took a slashing penalty for something she did near the Minnesota crease at 13:49. Wisconsin killed the penalty. Both teams struggled to finish it in regulation, but it was not to be as the last shot in the dying seconds of the period went from Rowe’s stick straight into Peters’s glove.
As soon as overtime started Minnesota came crashing down on Campbell. Despite this show of force, they were unable to put any direct shots on goal. Instead it was a Wellhausen shot from the left side that hit Peters and tumbled over her back into goal at 1:32 and then Knowles immediately shoved her into the backboards. Abby Roque had the lone assist on the game-winning goal, which ended the game 2-1(OT) in Wisconsin’s favor and also finished the sweep.