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No. 1 Wisconsin gets payback vs. No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth

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DULUTH, Minn. – Heading into Saturday’s game at No. 3 Minnesota Duluth, Wisconsin women’s hockey junior Annie Pankowski, the program’s leading point scorer last year with 22 goals and 36 assists, was without a goal in nine games played this year.

That all changed at AMSOIL Arena as the junior winger tallied her third career hat trick to lead the top-ranked Badgers 12-1-1, 10-1-1-1 WCHA) to a 4-1 win over the Bulldogs (8-3-3, 7-3-2-1).

“I think it was a long time coming and it feels good to get that monkey off your back,” Pankowski said. “All the credit to my linemates that made those goals happen.”

Pankowski scored the Badgers’ first natural hat trick since Brooke Ammerman did so against Minnesota State on Feb. 24, 2012.

“The first one is sometimes the hardest one to get,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “I think she was relieved when she got the first one in the second period because that just loosens you up and takes away the pressure these individuals put on themselves. Eventually it’s going to come, you just don’t know when. But when it does come, usually the ones that follow become a little bit easier. So the big thing is that it helped us win the game.

A native of Laguna Hills, California, Pankowski now has eight goals and 10 assists in 11 career games against the Bulldogs.

Pankowski wasn’t the only Badger to light up the score sheet, as linemate Emily Clark recorded an assist on each of the Badgers’ four goals.

Freshman Nikki Cece earned her first career win for the Cardinal and White, stopping 19 of the 20 shots she faced from UMD.

“I thought Cece played well last night,” Johnson said. “But they were just opportunistic on their chances. She had the opportunity to come back tonight and she played well so I’m happy for her that she got her first win.”

“It definitely felt amazing,” Cece said about her first win. “I had a lot of help from the defense on my team and that made me feel a lot more comfortable. Even after yesterday’s game, a couple of them were texting me and talking to me and telling me that we were going to bounce back tomorrow. They gave me a lot of confidence today.”

Senior Jenny Ryan gave the Badgers an early lead in the first period, backhanding the puck past UMD netminder Maddie Rooney.

But UMD countered four minutes later, as Sydney Morin scored on a Bulldog power play to tie the game at one heading into the second period. UW was outshot 12-6 in the frame.

Momentum swung the Badgers way in the second and third periods, as UW outshot UMD 41-8 over the final 40 minutes, and were rewarded with a trio of Pankowski goals.

Pankowski scored the game-winning goal six minutes into the second period, burying a bouncing puck into the net to give UW a 2-1 advantage.

Five minutes into the third, Pankowski scored on a power play, capitalizing on an Emily Clark rebound to give UW a 3-1 advantage.

Pankowski concluded the scoring with a short-handed goal two minutes later, her fifth career short-handed strike.

Wisconsin outshot UMD 47-20, marking the seventh time this year UW has recorded 40 or more shots in a game.

“The last two periods were very good,” Johnson said. “In the first period we came out slow, but we found our legs in the early part of the second period. From then on we played as well as we’ve played all year. So hat’s off to our team for responding to last night’s loss.”

Wisconsin steps out of conference to take on Cornell next weekend at LaBahn Arena. Faceoff on Friday and Saturday is set for 7 p.m.

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