MADISON, Wis. -- The Wisconsin women's hockey team barreled past St. Cloud State, 5-0, in its first game of the WCHA Playoffs on Friday night at LaBahn Arena. The win extends Wisconsin's winning streak against St. Cloud State to 15 games, and is the fifth game this year the Badgers have scored at least five goals against the Huskies.
"We started the game off with a lot of energy and were able to maintain that for three periods," said head coach Mark Johnson. "Obviously, when you score some goals it creates energy and the atmosphere was good tonight, so I think the players fed off of that and I'm very pleased with the overall effort."
The first period was full of scoring opportunities as Wisconsin (22-9-2 overall) out-shot St. Cloud State (9-23-3 overall) 13-6, but the Badgers were unable to capitalize until 18:29 into the period. Karley Sylvester netted a rebound-goal off of Madison Packer's shot, putting the Badgers up 1-0.
Wisconsin's offense kept rolling in the second period when Brianna Decker scored her 28th goal of the season. Decker made a couple of moves to get around a defender and scored five-hole, giving Wisconsin a 2-0 advantage with 8:16 left in the period.
Having gone scoreless on the power play since Feb. 17, the Badgers capitalized on the man advantage late in the second period, as Packer netted her 17th goal of the season. A centering pass from Packer, toward Sylvester at the far post, deflected off a defenseman's skate into the back of the net for the 3-0 lead.
Midway through the third period, Erika Sowchuk redirected a shot from Natalie Berg for the Badgers' fourth goal. Two minutes later, Jordan Brickner netted her third goal of the season from the blue line. Brickner's shot tipped off the glove of the SCSU goalie, Julie Friend, before hitting the crossbar and deflecting in.
The Badgers went 1-for-2 on the power play, while killing off all three penalties to go perfect on the PK.
"It's a playoff game, when you get into the playoffs everyone is back to zero," Johnson said. "So whether you're undefeated Minnesota, or Bemidji in last place, everyone's trying to get an NCAA bid."
Wisconsin hosts St. Cloud State for the second game of the first-round WCHA Playoff series on Saturday at 7 p.m. The third game, if necessary, is set for 4 p.m. on Sunday.
- Madison Packer scored one goal and tallied three assists, tying her career-game highs for both assists and points
- Alex Rigsby made 17 saves, recording her seventh shutout of the season and 23rd of her career
- The forward line of Brianna Decker, Karley Sylvester and Madison Packer combined for three goals and five assists