Home trouble continues with sweep by Badgers

Minnesota lost for the third time in its past five home games on Saturday.

Zach Eisendrath

In its last home series of the calendar year, Minnesota’s women’s hockey team once again looked anything but comfortable on their home ice this weekend at Ridder Arena.

The fourth-ranked Gophers (9-5-0, 4-4-0 WCHA) were swept by third-ranked Wisconsin (11-1-0, 9-1-0 WCHA) in two distinctly different looking games; losing 5-2 on Saturday and 2-0 on Friday night.

Saturday, Wisconsin trounced the defending national champions from the onset.

In a wild first period, the Badgers used three goals to gain the momentum early on. Tina Hanson put the puck past goaltender Brittony Chartier at 3:37 into the game and Nikki Burish scored 2:14 later, giving Wisconsin an early 2-0 advantage.

It was at that point that Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson called a timeout to settle her team down.

“It’s very rare that I’m going to have to call a timeout in the first period,” Halldorson said.

“I just felt like our heads weren’t in the game. Can’t explain it, that’s a good team we played, not taking anything away from them, but we dug ourselves a huge hole and couldn’t get out of it.”

Re-energized and with a five on three player advantage, sophomore Anya Miller scored a power-play goal just 57 seconds after the timeout, trimming the Wisconsin lead to one.

But that was as close as the Gophers would come.

After a Minnesota penalty, the Badgers’ Sharon Cole converted on the power play with 45 seconds left in the period, effectively ending any momentum the Gophers may have gained.

“It was one bad thing after another,” Halldorson said. “Our focus isn’t there. You can’t go out there without focus.”

It got even uglier in the second when the Badgers scored two goals within the first five minutes of the stanza. At that time, with the games fate seemingly sealed, Halldorson decided to replace Chartier behind net with backup goalie Kim Hanlon.

“They capitalized on their chances,” junior forward Andrea Nichols said. “We had a lot of chances just didn’t capitalize on ours.

“The bounces aren’t really going in for us. We had plenty of chances.”

Said Halldorson: “I was not happy with (Saturday’s) game at all. There were a lot of breakdowns, a lot of problems and I know we are capable of playing a lot better than we played (Saturday).”

Friday night’s game was all about missed opportunities for the Gophers.

The Badgers jumped on the Gophers early once again when freshman Angie Kelsey scored on Chartier 8:42 into the game.

That was all Wisconsin needed, as Minnesota was shut out by Wisconsin goalie Meghan Horras.

Although they out shot Wisconsin 20-17, Minnesota couldn’t put the puck in the net.

“We just couldn’t buy a goal,” sophomore Erica McKenzie said. “We had a lot of shots, it just wasn’t going in.

“They connected on their opportunities and our mistakes and we just couldn’t capitalize on their mistakes,” McKenzie said.

Despite the loss, Halldorson said she was pleased with her team’s performance.

“We played with a lot of effort and had our chances, just couldn’t seem to find the net. They just weren’t going in,” she said.

“I was happy with the way we played; we just didn’t win the game.”