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  • Desbiens Ties NCAA Career Shutout Record


    Saturday afternoon Badger Ann-Renée Desbiens earned her 43rd career shutout, tying the NCAA career shutout record set by Noora Räty of the University of Minnesota. One more game and she’ll have the most NCAA career shutouts in ice hockey—as the men’s record, which was set by Ryan Miller of Michigan State, is only 26 shutouts. This achievement came due to Wisconsin’s 5-0 victory over Bemidji State and depending on how tomorrow’s game goes, she could make history.

    The game’s outcome was all the more impressive considering the fact Bemidji was playing a depleted Wisconsin roster, as Annie Pankowski was gone due to national team commitments at 4 Nations and Sam Cogan was out with an injury. Considering the fact Desbiens took a knee to the head during a game last weekend, she easily could have missed this game as well. Opposite Desbiens in goal was Brittni Mowat, Bemidji’s stalwart goaltender.

    Bemidji may have won the initial puck drop, but Wisconsin was the first to attempt a shot. Presley Norby had a great scoring chance, but Mowat denied her. Then Madison Hutchinson earned a delayed tripping penalty and Desbiens went off for the extra skater. In her 15-second absence Wisconsin buzzed around the Bemidji crease passing the puck until it hit a Beaver and flew into goal at 8:41. Since Mikaela Gardner made that pass turned goal, it was her hers, while Sydney McKibbon and Maddie Rolfes had the assists. The Badgers were unable to convert on the power play, but they were trying to be more selective with their shots, since their typical machine gun rapidity results in a lot of wide shots, as it did through much of this game.

    Emily Clark took a checking penalty at 11:51. The Beavers had a great chance when Desbiens didn’t properly pass off the puck to a teammate, but then the refs blew the whistle before they could do anything with the puck. At least they had a couple good shots before the penalty expired, including on where Desbiens had to glove the puck in the air. Jacqueline Kaasa sped past Wisconsin’s defenders for a one-on-one shot on Desbiens, but the goalie made the save. The period ended with a series of Badger shots that went wide or were blocked.

    Wisconsin came out buzzing second period peppering Mowat with shots. Then Sarah Nurse passed to Norby in the slot and she fired into the top right corner of the goal, scoring at 3:10. Gardner had the second assist and then went to the box for checking seconds later at 3:23. Bemidji tried to use their power play to their advantage, but their shots mostly hit Badger defense until the penalty expired.

    Mowat butterflied down to stop a shot by Maddie Rolfes, but instead of controlling the puck it bounced upwards off her pads, though she eventually caught it. This happened several times during the game and apparently she did not appear to be quite in sync with the rest of her team, suggesting Mowat was not playing at her best. A little later Rolfes cleared Wisconsin’s zone with a pass to Norby, who entered Bemidji’s zone unchallenged and then buried the puck in the same spot as her last goal at 6:52. Shortly after her goal, Norby was knocked into boards, but no call on the Beaver. Jenny Ryan earned an elbowing penalty at 10:23, which Wisconsin killed by mostly keeping the puck out of their zone. Gardner rang one off the left post, but that was one of the better scoring chances either side had in the latter half of the period.

    The Badgers put a handful of shots on goal in third period before almost scoring; Bemidji was saved from another goal against when the puck jammed between Mowat’s arm and the post, just outside of the goal line. Then Hutchinson tripped Nurse, which sent the Beaver to the box at 6:19. During their power play Desbiens had to make a far out save and Wisconsin was unable to convert. Instead the next goal came at 12:49 when Gardner poked the puck through Mowat’s defenses while she was trying to cover in the crease. Emily Clark and Mikayla Johnson had the assists.

    Sophia Shaver had the puck on the right side of Bemidji’s zone and bypassed a defender by tapping it forward to Abby Roque. As soon as Roque got Mowat to commit to the save she passed across the crease to Alexis Maurmann, who scored on the open backdoor at 13:57. Norby spent the rest of the period trying to complete her hat trick, but couldn’t manage the third goal. In the end Wisconsin won 5-0, shots 30-10 also in their favor, completing Desbiens’s 43rd shutout. Wisconsin has only allowed nine goals in their eleven games this season, which goes to show how stellar their defense is.

    There’s a reasonable chance Desbiens will earn her 6th shutout of the season and 44th career later today. If it happens, I’ll be in the stands watching the Gophers finish their series against the Mavericks—which, if you read through this article looking for that recap, expect it tomorrow—but I wish her the best of luck breaking the record and creating far loftier one in its place.

    Desbiens won me over during the Minnesota-Wisconsin series in October 2014. I had arrived late at LaBahn Arena with the score already 3-1 Gopher’s favor. Within minutes a Gopher had a break away and left the Badger defense in her dust. That’s when Desbiens charged out of her crease and met the Gopher at the blue line. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing—if this goalie messed up, Minnesota essentially had an empty netter—it was an absurdly aggressive gamble. Yet it paid off. With one decisive swipe of her stick Desbiens batted the puck away rendering the threat inert. I assume the Gopher was too stunned by unexpected goalie to react and imagine Desbiens simply told her “no” as she shut her down. This aggressive athletic goalie is already making history and I can’t wait to see how her final year with Wisconsin plays out or what she does after that.

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