Minnesota goaltender Lauren Bench remained on one knee as a couple of her teammates skated over to her. She needed to take a minute before she stood up.
Bench needed to process what just happened.
While Bench was pausing, Wisconsin was celebrating. The No. 1 Badgers had just snatched away a 4-3 overtime victory from the No. 2 Gophers women's hockey team Friday at Ridder Arena. Wisconsin trailed the entire game until the moment Daryl Watts scored.
"That's a hard way to lose," Bench said. "I think we all kind of thought we were going to win."
They had good reason to believe that they would, which would have snapped the Badgers' four-game winning streak against them.
The clock was ticking down in the final minutes of regulation, and the Gophers had a 3-2 lead. Then, Wisconsin (9-2) pulled goaltender Kennedy Blair. And with 25 seconds left, Badgers forward Britta Curl scored. Watts froze the defender between two forwards and hit Curl on a small-window pass.
"There was a girl coming in on the side," Bench said. "I'm just making sure she's not going to be able to pick a corner and hoping that my teammate's got the back door. Unfortunately they made a play and connected on that pass."
It was the perfect play that the Badgers needed to get back in a game that the Gophers (9-5) controlled well for nearly 60 minutes.
It was a stark contrast to the first two games the rivals played this season, both Wisconsin victories by a combined score of 11-3. The Gophers showed early this game wouldn't be anything like those drubbings.
Sophomore defenseman Madeline Wethington, a Blake graduate, gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead with 11:06 left in the opening frame. The Gophers later killed a power play to maintain that lead heading into the first intermission. In the previous two matchups, the Gophers trailed by a combined 4-1 score after the first period.
"We were trying to be aggressive on our gaps and on our pinches as defensemen," Wethington said. "Not giving them time because they are obviously skilled."
The Badgers began to show more glimpses of that in the second period. Their best consecutive minutes of hockey in this game, outside of overtime, came in the final minutes of the second frame. Watts led that charge. Entering the game leading the country in goals per game, she could be contained for only so long.
Two minutes after an impressive two-on-one stop that Bench made, Watts fired a shot from the right circle that displayed both skill and frustration. Her first shot of the game brought Wisconsin within 2-1 with 3:08 left in the second period.
But her shot in overtime made all the difference. As Minnesota played its first 3-on-3 overtime of the season, Watts took advantage. Given a 3-on-1 with a forward trying to defend her and two other Badgers, Watts buried the game winner.
And now the Gophers have to try to end a five-game winning streak when they face the Badgers again at 4 p.m. Saturday.
"You put the puck on Watts' stick in a 3-on-1 in overtime," Minnesota coach Brad Frost said, "it usually doesn't end well."