Last night 10,668 Badger hockey fans filled the Kohl Center to watch Wisconsin defeat minnesota 3-1.
Wow was that fun! I've never been able to sit in the 2nd deck (my prefered place to sit) to watch the Women, but didn't have much of a choice getting there 20 minutes before the puck dropped. It was amazing to grab a seat and already see 90% of the lower bowl filled, and then watch as the 2nd level filled and filled, while the KC had to even open the 3rd level. This is no big deal for a Men's game, but after regularly watching a 1/3 full (at best) lower bowl at games, it was exciting to see so many people at a Women's game.
And those that came were treated to one heck of a game! The Badgers came out firing early in the 1st period as Hilary Knight scored her 99th career goal (34th of the year) past the gopher's goalie Raty (one rodent knows another...) less than a minute in. Great passing from Brittany Haverstock and Meghan Duggan. Later in the first, WI native Brianna Decker took the puck shorthanded around the entire gohper team scoring a highlight reel goal to put Bucky up 2-0.
The Badgers controlled the 1st period, notching 22 SOG. In the second, the gophers took some of the momentum back scoring a SH goal of their own on a Klubertanz like play on the blue line by the Badgers for a nearly uncontested breakaway. The Badgers answered later in the 2nd on a nice goal by Carolyne Prevost, putting the Badgers up 3-1, and that was the way the game ended.
The Badgers did very well on the PK, the gophers went 0-6 on the man advantage. The other star of the game for the Badgers was another WI native Alex Rigsby. She made some big saves in net and it was easily one of her best games of the year. A nice night for the freshman.
W/ a win and an shootout win (5 points total in WCHA Women's scoring) the Badgers have opened their conference lead to 16 pts over minnesota and 17 pts over North Dakota. The Badgers only need one win in the next 6 games to finish the regular season as WCHA champs. Looks tough for a team on a 14 game unbeaten streak...
The 10,668 fans in attendance set a new NCAA record for a Women's Hockey game. The previous record from Camp Randall last season was 8,263 fans. Immediately following the game at center ice, Becker Law Office presented Second Harvest w/ a check for $10,668, in addition to all the non-perishable goods fans had donated on their way into the KC. Hats off to Becker Law Office for the generous donation. I'm hoping UW does this again next year, it was the prefect storm to get fans in the KC. Men's team on the road, and no television for those games, no football and no UW basketball in prime time.
While I've had fun at Men's games this season, this was the most fun I've had at the Kohl Center this year. The Women's team gave the fans in attendance a very entertaining game, and for the "no checking = no hockey" crowd there was a lot of physical play on both sides. Brooke Ammerman even ignited the crowd after leveling gopher post whistle.
While I don't expect to see big crowds every game for the Women, I hope those in attendance enjoyed the game, and make it a point to catch a few games yet this season, next season and beyond. At $5, its the best deal in UW sports for the quality of the product on the ice.
I didn't include any pictures, but the links to uwbadgers and WSJ at the top have some nice photo galleries, check them out.