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Wisconsin Athletics | January 16, 2017

No. 1 Badgers shatter NCAA attendance record

  Wisconsin blanked St. Cloud State, 2-0, in from of 15,359 fans at Fill the Bowl on Saturday.

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin women's hockey team delivered for fans at Fill the Bowl on Saturday, defeating St. Cloud State 2-0 in front of a record-setting crowd of 15,359 at the Kohl Center.

Wisconsin broke its own NCAA women's hockey single-game attendance record of 13,573 set back at the 2014 Fill The Bowl. Thanks to the record crowd, UW now owns the top five single-game attendance marks in NCAA women's hockey history. 

"It blew [my expectations] away," captain Sydney McKibbon said. "Being in Fill the Bowl and not having a sellout my freshman year and then coming this year and having it sellout was pretty incredible. You just see those towels swinging around. That's something I will never forget."

"I think during the national anthem, as I looked around, it just amazed me how the community embraced this," UW head coach Mark Johnson said. "Badger nation, our fans, the city, their willingness to come out and support not only the program but support the cause and it just put a smile on my face.  It just made me happy that people are willing to do those type of things and give my players and the staff an experience that is once in a lifetime. I think everybody enjoyed it. I hope everybody had fun and I want to give a big thank you to everybody that came today and supported it."

The Badgers (20-2-1, 15-2-1-1 WCHA) were firing on all cylinders, outshooting the Huskies (6-16-2, 4-13-1-1 WCHA) by a 61-12 count, marking the ninth time in school history UW has registered 60 or more shots on goal in a game. 

Junior Emily Clark got the Badgers on the board less than a minute into the second period, sliding the puck under SCSU goaltender Janine Alder after receiving a pass from junior Annie Pankowski. With the goal, Clark tallied four goals and seven points during the weekend series. 

"It was pretty surreal," Clark said. "After that first one, we could definitely hold onto our sticks a little less tight. But it was a pretty cool experience to be able to get that."

Even with a frenzy of offensive chances throughout the remainder of the second period, Alder stood tall for the Huskies, denying each chance the Badgers generated. UW outshot SCSU 25-2 in the second frame. 

In the final frame, junior Baylee Wellhausen doubled Wisconsin's lead after stuffing a feed from sophomore Sophia Shaver into the net. Wellhausen's goal would mark the last time the Badgers found the back of the net during the contest, despite outshooting the Huskies 18-7 in the third period.  

Senior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens made 12 saves to earn her 10th shutout of the season and improve to 16-1-1 in net for the Cardinal and White.

"I was definitely excited looking forward to Fill the Bowl," Desbiens said. "I had it circled on my calendar, especially since I got injured I was like, 'I really want to be back for that one.' It was definitely a nice experience and the fans are amazing and one more time they just showed everybody how awesome they are. I didn't have the chance my freshman year so it was definitely a lot of fun and I hope we could do it again or the next couple games, but it won't happen. I wish to any women's hockey player that they have the chance to play in front of a crowd like that."

Desbiens sits atop the NCAA in goals-against average (0.66), save percentage (.961), winning percentage (.917) and shutouts (10).

"She's put up things and done things for our program that are very special that it was nice to see her get a chance to go out there," Johnson said. "She probably enjoyed it the most and probably had the most fun with it."

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