UW freshman produces her second-career hat trick to pace Wisconsin

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(ISN) – MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin women’s hockey freshman Annie Pankowski recorded her second career hat trick to lift the No. 4 Badgers past No. 7 Clarkson, 4-0, on Sunday afternoon at LaBahn Arena.

The Badgers’ win gave UW head coach Mark Johnson his 350th career victory, making Johnson only the fourth coach in NCAA Division I history to earn 350 triumphs on the bench.

“It’s not about me,” Johnson said. “It’s about the kids in the locker room coming together, developing as teammates and trying to do something as the season progresses. We’re in the business of trying to make sure those kids end up with experiences here, whether it’s in one special year or their four-year body of work. It was a good day.”

Wisconsin (19-4-3) earned its 10th shutout of the season as UW netminder Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped all 24 of Clarkson’s (18-5-3) shots. Desbiens earned her eighth shutout of the season, which is tied for second in the nation.

“It’s just a team effort,” Desbiens said. “I just need to focus on what I can do, and we do a good job by putting pressure on their goaltenders too.”

After the scoreless first, Pankowski lit the lamp twice in the second, marking her first goals since scoring against New Hampshire on Nov. 29. Three minutes into the period, Pankowski buried the puck into the top corner of the net to give UW a 1-0 lead. 10 minutes later, Pankowski benefited from a Brittany Ammerman screen, sending a wrister past CU netminder Shea Tiley to double the Wisconsin advantage.

UW increased its lead to 3-0 early in the third as Karley Sylvester knocked in a Blayre Turnbull shot, marking her second goal of the weekend and the 11th on the year for the Badger senior.

A little over two minutes later, Courtney Burke set up Pankowski with a beautiful centering pass to the slot which Pankowski then lasered a shot into the corner of the net, over the shoulder of Tiley.

It marked Pankowski’s second-career hat trick, as she tallied a hat trick against Minnesota State on Nov. 13, 2014.

“I think our team was rolling on all cylinders, and I was just kind of there to finish them off,” Pankowski said. “It was nice to see a couple of bounces go our way, to win in regulation by a good margin and to get a shutout.”

The Badgers held the lead in shots throughout, managing to hold the Golden Knights without a shot on goal for the first 13:55 of the game. UW finished the game with a 38-24 edge in the category.

The nation’s leading penalty kill was at it again, shutting down Clarkson’s power play on all four opportunities. Wisconsin has killed its past 40 penalties, a streak that began on Oct. 25, 2014 against Bemidji State.

After scoring only six goals in its past five games after the semester break, the UW offense tallied four goals for the 12th time this season.

“The big thing is to not get frustrated,” Johnson said. “The key is persevering, and eventually the puck is going to go in instead of hitting the post and bouncing out. It was good and I’m happy for the team, because I thought they worked really hard and played hard for sixty minutes today, and they got rewarded for that effort.”

The Cardinal and White resume WCHA action on Friday and Saturday when the Badgers travel to Mankato, Minnesota, to take on Minnesota State. Friday’s contest is set for a 7 p.m. start, while Saturday’s action will begin at 3 p.m.

With only four series left in the WCHA season, Johnson is pleased how the team is looking heading into the playoffs.

“It’s been six good games for us,” Johnson said. “The pace in all six games was very strong, but now you have eight games left. The big thing is to maintain what you’ve done in the last three weeks and make some improvements in the areas that may need improving to get yourselves ready in the playoffs.”

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