MADISON, Wis. --The No. 2 Wisconsin women's hockey team returned to a different sheet of ice for the series conclusion against No. 1 Minnesota Saturday night, skating in front of an NCAA-record 13,573 fans at the Kohl Center in the fourth-annual Fill the Bowl event.
The Badgers were unable to bounce back from their 3-2 loss to the Gophers last night, as the conference rival scored four goals in the final two periods to hand Wisconsin a 4-0 loss.
"It's a humbling experience to put on a party and have the score be what it was," UW head coach Mark Johnson said. "But it's also a learning opportunity and as I told our group after the game, over the next three or four weeks we can make something special happen. So it's refocusing, learning from what happened tonight. Every game is the same. You look at what are the things we did well tonight. Some nights you do a lot of good things and don't win. Other nights you don't do a lot of good things and you end up maybe losing the hockey game. The big thing is what do we need to do to get better."
"We've got good chemistry. We've got good camaraderie amongst our team. Those individuals are going to make the next two, three, four weeks an opportunity that we'll look on as a positive experience for everybody."
Senior goaltender Alex Rigsby stopped 23 shots in the losing effort, bringing her season record to 13-4-2. The Gophers (30-1-1, 24-1-1-0 WCHA) outshot the Badgers (23-5-2, 19-5-2-1) 27-24 overall.
"It's probably a combination of a couple things," Johnson said. "Sometimes when you're at an event like this, you get so hyped up, then after the first couple of shifts your legs start to feel heavy. That's why it's important if you're able to score, you get a quick shot of adrenaline that can help the process. But sometimes the most important games that you play are the ones where you get so excited and so fired up to play that sometimes you come out a little bit flat. And I think obviously playing on a bigger ice sheet expounds on that.
"So again, we weren't able to score, we weren't able to create energy. We were able to get chances, we just didn't capitalize on it."
A Minnesota penalty at the 16:36 mark of the first frame handed Wisconsin its first power play opportunity of the night, but the Badgers were unable to convert. Both Rigsby and Minnesota netminder Amanda Leveille battled some chaos in the crease, but each managed to hold the opponent scoreless during the first. Wisconsin outshot Minnesota 7-6 during the first 20 minutes of play.
But the Gophers couldn't be held off for long, as UM found the back of the net on a rush 10 minutes into the middle frame to score the first goal of the game. Another Minnesota breakaway at the 17:48 mark resulted in a second goal for the Gophers, giving them a 2-0 lead they would finish the period with.
Wisconsin battled back in the final stanza, finding some offensive opportunities during four more minutes of 5-on-4 hockey, but were unable to light the lamp. Despite being outshot by the Badgers 8-7 in the final period, UM scored two more goals to earn the 4-0 victory at the final horn.
The record-breaking crowd brought in a total of 4,677 pounds of non-perishable food to the Fill the Bowl fundraiser, which will be donated to Second Harvest Foodbank to help fight hunger in southern Wisconsin.
"I want to thank all of the fans that came out tonight to support our event," Johnson said. "Certainly a special night for a lot of different reasons. Most importantly, we raised a lot food for Second Harvest Food Bank and obviously set an NCAA record. But I think also most importantly, we gave some players and individuals a memory that will last a life time, to get an opportunity to play in front of a big crowd."
- The fourth-annual Fill the Bowl sets a new NCAA attendance record with 13,573 fans
- Alex Rigsby made 23 saves in her fourth loss of the season
- Minnesota outshot Wisconsin 27-24