BEMIDJI, Minn. — The University of Wisconsin women's hockey team has made itself right at home at the Sanford Center over the years, winning 89% of its games there.
Bemidji State seems intent on changing that.
The Beavers scored two first-period goals and held on to deal the top-ranked Badgers a 3-2 defeat Saturday in the finale of a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series, snapping UW's 11-game winning streak.
The UW squad that won the 2019 NCAA championship also lost at Sanford Center, one of just four setbacks overall last season. The Badgers are now 40-3-3 in Bemidji.
"It was a good learning opportunity. It's a 60-minute game, you have to be ready," UW coach Mark Johnson said. "Little things at the start of the game can make a big difference. We made a couple mistakes off face-offs in the first period which cost us a couple goals."
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Junior Clair DeGeorge and senior Abby Halluska converted those mistakes into first-period goals. Sophomore Sophie Shirley (power play) and junior Caitlin Schneider scored 62 seconds aaprt in the second period to pull the Badgers (21-2-1, 11-2-1-0 WCHA) even, but DeGeorge netted her second of the game at 8 minutes, 31 seconds of the second period to put the Beavers (12-11-1, 7-7-0-0) back in front.
UW outshot Bemidji State 17-3 in the third period but couldn't solve Beavers goaltender Lauren Bench (38 saves).
"The last two periods were real good," Johnson said. "We gave ourselves a chance in the second period after being down 2-0. We made a game of it. We couldn't find a way in the third period to tie the game. The effort in the last 40 minutes was good, it just wasn't enough to capitalize and tie the game up."
UW junior Daryl Watts recorded her 100th career assist on Shirley's goal.
The Badgers are off next weekend and then will host second-ranked Minnesota on Jan. 24-25 at LaBahn Arena.
"We can sit back next week, see where we're at, try to get healthy, get everyone feeling better and get ready for Minnesota in a couple weekends," Johnson said.