MADISON, Wis. – Senior forward Brianna Decker thought she blew her chance to win the game after missing the net on a two-on-one opportunity within the first minute of overtime. However, she made up for it just a minute later, scoring an unassisted goal after winning a face off to herself, to lift the Badgers, 3-2, over Minnesota Duluth on Sunday evening in LaBahn Arena.
Sylvester assisted on the first goal of the game for Wisconsin.
The game served as senior day for the Wisconsin women’s hockey team, and the senior from Dousman, Wis., made emphasis of that, scoring two goals in her final regular-season home game.
Wisconsin (19-9-2 overall) moves up to 15-9-2-2 in WCHA play and has secured a third-place finish in the conference standings. Minnesota Duluth (14-13-3 overall) is now 13-12-1-0 in conference action and is still in a battle for fourth place with Ohio State.
Wisconsin locked up home ice for the first round of WCHA playoff, after Saturday’s 3-1 win against UMD, and will either host Minnesota State, St. Cloud State or Bemidji State.
The Badgers didn't want the Bulldogs to spoil senior day, and they made sure of it, using overtime to do so. Wisconsin battled back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period, to force the extra period of play, before Decker’s OT heroics secured the win.
After a scoreless first period, Decker put the Badgers on the board just two minutes into the second period. Karley Sylvester created a turnover in the offensive zone and made a centering pass to Decker, who didn’t hesitate on the shot, putting it past UMD’s Kayla Black.
However, Minnesota Duluth scored the next two goals, one in the second period and one early in the third period. Jenna McParland scored the first UMD goal, while assisting on the second, as the Bulldogs took their first lead of the weekend, just under six minutes into the third period.
Wisconsin was undeterred and continued to press, and was eventually rewarded on the forecheck, as Blayre Turnbull intercepted an errant pass in front of Black. Turnbull one-timed the bad pass back on net and slipped it past Black to tie the game, 2-2, with less than six minutes remaining in the third period.
The Badgers carried the momentum from the tying-goal into overtime and did not allow UMD a single shot on goal.
Wisconsin had an early chance to put the game away when Madison Packer and Decker entered the UMD zone on a two-on-one. Packer connected with Decker in front of Black, but Decker misfired the shot, putting it just wide of the net.
Just a minute later, Decker lined up for an offensive zone face off to Black’s left. Decker won the draw, pushing the puck forward, and stepped around UMD’s Jessica Wong for an unopposed chance on net. Decker made it count, drawing Black out of position, before going to her backhand on the far post for the game-winner.
After having nine power-play opportunities in the night before, the Badgers were limited to just two power-play chances in the game, and were unable to convert on either.
Alex Rigsby recorded her 19th win of the season, making 22 saves in the game, as Wisconsin out-shot the Bulldogs 45-24.
Wisconsin finishes the regular season with a trip to Bemidji State, Feb. 22-23, before returning to LaBahn Arena for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The Badgers’ opponent for the March 1-3 weekend will be decided following the final weekend of conference action.
Wisconsin Athletic Communications Department
Photos courtesy of Badger247 photographer Elliott Connor
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