MADISON, Wis. -- The Badgers made sure they'll play again in LaBahn Arena, posting a 3-1 victory over Minnesota Duluth on Saturday night, to secure home ice for the first round of WCHA playoffs come March 1-3.
Wisconsin (18-9-2 overall) improves to 14-9-2-2 in the WCHA, and in combination with the win and Ohio State losing both of its games to North Dakota, the Badgers cannot finish any lower than fourth place in the conference standings. Minnesota Duluth (14-12-3 overall) is now 13-11-1-0 in the WCHA and sits in fourth place, three points ahead of Ohio State.
Alex Rigsby made 25 saves in the win, while Madison Packer had a hand in each of the Badgers' three power-play goals.
"We ended up scoring some power-play goals again, which we've talked about this time of the year is helpful," said head coach Mark Johnson. Alev Kelter scored the first goal for Wisconsin 11 minutes into the first period. Kelter got the puck on a cross-ice pass from Packer, and she slipped the puck through the five-hole of Minnesota Duluth's goaltender Kayla Black.
The Badger's defense was solid in the first period, only allowing the Bulldogs four shots on goal. Wisconsin also killed two penalties in the first period, in which a total of 10 penalties were assessed.
The second Badger power-play goal came at the seven-minute mark of the second period from Packer. Packer skated up from behind the net with the puck on the left side and was able to put it in the upper-right corner to give Wisconsin a 2-0 lead. Even though the Bulldogs were scoreless in the second period, Rigsby made 13 of her 25 saves in the second twenty minutes of play.
Packer scored the third and final goal for Wisconsin during a power play in the third period. Brianna Decker took the initial shot from the left wing and Packer deflected it back down on net toward the far post.
Aleksandra Vafina scored the lone Minnesota Duluth goal. A shot from Shara Jasper squeaked past Rigsby and Vafina was on the back post to tap it in.
"Overall, from start to finish, it was a good, solid effort and the kids should be happy about it," Johnson said. "Now, we come back on senior day and hopefully we can stay focused and play a few more good periods."
The Badgers killed five penalties, while going three-for-nine in power-play opportunities. Wisconsin also out-shot Minnesota Duluth 34-26.
Wisconsin finishes off its regular season at home on Sunday at 4 p.m. against Minnesota Duluth for senior day. Five seniors will be recognized in a pregame ceremony at LaBahn Arena.
Tickets for the first-round WCHA playoffs will go on sale Tuesday through the Wisconsin Athletic Ticket Office. The games will be played at LaBahn Arena, March 1-3, in a best-of-three format. Friday's and Saturday's games will be played at 7 p.m. and Sunday's will be played at 4 p.m. if necessary.
- Badgers score first goals of season against Bulldogs
- Madison Packer records three points
- Courtney Burke and Brianna Decker assist two goals each