The Mercyhurst women’s ice hockey fell in their season opener by a 4-0 score on Sept. 28 and 5-1 the following night at LaBahn Arena in Madison. After easily handling Lindenwood in their season opener last weekend, second-ranked Wisconsin beat the Lakers against its second-straight College Hockey America (CHA) opponent. Laker Head Coach Michael Sisti opted to start second-string goaltender Kennedy Blair on Thursday night, one of three North Dakota transfers on his roster. It was just 38 seconds after the Lakers killed off the Badgers’ third power-play of the opening frame when the Badgers’ Caitlin Schneider ricocheted a pass from Kyleigh Hanzlik into the net for her first collegiate goal at 17:13 of an 11-shot first period.
The Badger’s upstart hosts continued their strong offensive penetration into the second as Mikaela Gardener beat Blair’s legs at 11:03 off a pass from Sam Cogan. But before the Lakers could regroup, the Badgers’ Abby Roque slotted a shot into the crease and onto Sophia Shaver’s stick for her second assist as the Badgers scored 2 goals in 59 seconds. The following night, issues for the Lakers on all facets continued as the Badgers greeted Sarah McDonnell no different than their 6-0 win here 19 months earlier in an NCAA quarterfinal. After freshman forward Maggie Knott was called for tripping at 10:35, Alexis Mauermann for the Badgers slapped home a loose puck after Gardner sent the centering pass to the crease.
This allowed for Sam Cogan to screen McDonnell off to the left to open the scoring. It wouldn’t be long before the contest spiraled out of control completely three minutes before the first intermission. Laker freshman forward Summer-Rae Dobson was called for a trip on exactly 17 minutes, leading Badger Mauermann to dump a pass behind her back to Brette Pettet for the second power-play goal of the period at 18:07. Folling this up, the Lakers went for a power play. Unfortunately, Laker freshman forward Alexa Vasko was called for a check from behind, ending her weekend early. And three seconds after the ensuing power-play ended at 4:27, Mauermann found Cogan to extend the lead for the Badgers. The Lakers would draw closer after their defense settled down.
Fieseler fired a shot which was initially blocked blocked, but she and Knott teamed up to find Summer-Rae Dobson for her first career goal. But the Badgers (4-0-0) ensured they would not suffer their first loss in 11 meetings with the Lakers. The Badgers’ Gardner received a blocked shot from Schneider and Shaver, relaying to Pettet at 4:17 to regain a three-goal margin over the Lakers.
Pettet then finished off the 29th Badger hat trick of the season. For the first since November 2014, Pettet of the Badgers came in 10 minutes later after intercepting a Laker clear to beat McDonnell (0-1-0). McDonnell made 21 saves but allowed three goals for the 10th time in the last two season.
She falls to 6-9-1 since winning the CHA Goaltending Trophy in 2015-16, while the Badgers won their 16th straight home game and improved to 10-0-0 all-time at home in September. “As the weekend went on we became a lot better,” said freshman defender Rachel Marmen for the Lakers. “This was our first game playing together compared to Wisconsin who already played 3 games before this week.” The Lakers return to Erie for their home opener Oct. 6 against 7th-ranked St. Lawrence University.
Copy editor Meghan Maker contributed to this report.