MINNEAPOLIS — Until Friday, the second-ranked University of Minnesota women’s hockey team hadn’t lost a game since October.
That was when it most recently played top-ranked Wisconsin.
Since losing to the Badgers on Oct. 28 at the Kohl Center during a weekend split in Madison, the Gophers had rattled off 14 straight wins. That streak ended Friday night when Emily Clark scored a first-period goal, defenseman Maddie Rolfes added a second-period tiebreaker and UW posted a 2-1 Border Battle victory at Ridder Arena.
Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the Badgers hold a 11-6-2 record against the Golden Gophers, including a 4-3-2 record at Ridder Arena. UW swept the regular-season road series last year in Minneapolis, earning a 3-2 win in the opener before nabbing a thrilling 2-1 overtime win in the finale.
“I think we come into this rink with an amount of confidence that just takes us through this game and we aren’t timid at all,” Rolfes said after scoring just her second goal of the season. “We know we’re capable of beating them if we go out and work hard and win 50/50 battles and we did that and it paid off.”
The Badgers (21-2-0, 11-2-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) struck first, 5:20 into the first period and just eight seconds after freshman Catie Skaja was sent to the penalty box. Clark, a senior, scored on the power play. She lifted the puck over goalie Alex Gulstene’s shoulder. She was assisted by Nicole LaMantia and Annie Pankowski.
The Badgers dictated much of the play in the first period, registering eight shots on goal to the Gophers’ three, but just 18 seconds into the second period, Minnesota responded when Nicole Schammel converted on a 2-on-1 opportunity to tie the score.
Minnesota (21-3-1, 11-3-1) outshot the Badgers in the second period but went into the third trailing after Rolfes, a senior, scored the eventual winner with about five minutes left in the second period.
“I was really happy with the way we played in the first period,” UW coach Mark Johnson said. “You knew you were going to get a push from them coming back in the second period with the shorter line changes and them wanting to play it better than they did in the first period.
“I thought the third period we started doing the little things better than the middle intermission.”
The Badgers defense, which entered ranked No. 1 in the country allowing just 1.18 goals against per game, limited Minnesota’s high-powered offense to just 21 shots on goal.
“I think we have a big focus on getting better every weekend,” Clark said. “We showed a lot of character last weekend and worked really hard in practice on the little details. That’s the kind of stuff against a great team like Minnesota it comes down to the little details, the little bounces that you’ve got to capitalize on when you can.”
The Gophers and Badgers conclude their series at 4:07 p.m. Saturday at Ridder Arena.
First period: W — Clark 7 (LaMantia, Pankowski, pp, 5:20.
Second period: M — Schammel 7 (Zumwinkle, Marshall), :18; W — Rolfes 2 (Pettet, Drake), 14:59.
Saves: Campbell (3-9-8) 20; M Gulstene (7-8-9) 24.
Power plays: W 1-for-2; M 1-for-2. Penalties: W 2-for-4; M 2-for-4.