ST. CLOUD, Minn. - The No. 2 Badgers broke open a 3-3 tie midway through the third period and held off an attempted comeback by the Lakers with two late goals to earn a 7-4 win over No. 4/5 Mercyhurst in the Easton Holiday Showcase at the National Hockey Center Sunday afternoon.
Juniors Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho) and Brooke Ammerman (River Vale, N.J.) combined for four goals and three assists with two each from Knight. Senior Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) and freshman Brittany Ammerman (River Vale, N.J.) each added a goal and an assist, and freshman Kelly Jaminski (Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.) recorded two assists.
The teams were locked at 3-3 after two periods, but Wisconsin (18-2-0, 12-2-0 WCHA) took a 5-3 lead midway through the third. Mercyhurst (14-4-0, 5-0-0 CHA) made it 5-4 on a goal by Meghan Agosta with 3:37 remaining, but the Badgers used a late tally by sophomore Brianna Decker (Dousman, Wis.) and an empty net goal from freshman Brittany Ammerman (River Vale, N.J.) to seal the 7-4 victory.
"Today was a good learning process for the group," head coach Mark Johnson said. "Sometimes you are tired, and you have to play smart. I thought we did a pretty good job of that. The third period was very good (with) challenges from both teams. You're tied 3-3 and you're down to 20 minutes. You have to understand who you're playing against because Mercyhurst certainly had the offensive power and capabilities to score goals quickly.
"At this point in the season, it's a real good learning opportunity to find out more about the team. Put them in a situation that they haven't been in before and see how they respond. As you go through those situations, whether you're successful or not, you end up getting better because of it."
Freshman goaltender Alex Rigsby (Delafield, Wis.) made 27 saves and improved to 12-1-0 on the season. Mercyhurst received 32 saves from Hillary Pattenden, who slipped to 13-4-0 overall. The Badgers outshot the Lakers, 39-31, including a 15-8 advantage in the third period.
Mercyhurst jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Jess Jones at 4:34 of the first period, but the Badgers evened the score at 1-1 with an unassisted goal by Knight with just 31 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Wisconsin received two goals from Brooke Ammerman and Duggan early in the second period to take a 3-1 lead, but the Lakers stormed back with goals from Meghan Corbett and Christie Cicero and the second period ended in a 3-3 tie.
Knight gave the Badgers a lead they would not relinquish when she put Wisconsin ahead 4-3 at the 10:49 mark of the third period. Brooke Ammerman added her second tally of the game just 32 seconds later, scoring off a feed from freshman Madison Packer (Birmingham, Mich.) and Brittany Ammerman.
Agosta set the stage for a Mercyhurst comeback, netting her 19th goal of the season at the 16:23 mark to make it 5-4, but scores by Decker and Brittany Ammerman in the final two minutes wrapped up the Wisconsin victory.
The Badgers take a six-game winning streak on the road to Ohio State next weekend. UW faces the Buckeyes at 6 p.m. (CT) Friday night and finishes the series with a 3 p.m. game on Saturday. Fans can follow both games live with the Gameday Blog.