The UW women's hockey team's offensive production this past weekend looked rather … well, offensive.
Led by Jinelle Zaugg, who scored a goal in each of the Badgers' first eight games, Wisconsin had been one of the highest scoring teams in the country all season. Along with Sara Bauer, who still leads the nation in scoring, Zaugg and the rest of the Badgers' offense didn't appear to be unstoppable at all last weekend, as they scored just one goal against Duluth in their two game series.
From the last blemish on their record, the 3-3 tie with Minnesota Oct. 22, the Badgers had been averaging an astonishing 5.66 goals per game.
What exactly caused last weekend's scoring problems is unknown, but the popular theories seem to be general fatigue and talented competition.
Having had only one weekend off since the season began at the end of September, it's understandable the Badgers would exhibit signs of fatigue, especially during the difficult stretch around the Thanksgiving holiday.
"It's been a long stretch, and we're getting a little tired and frustrated," Zaugg said of the weariness. "Practice hasn't been quite what it was at the beginning of the season. It's that stretch before Christmas, and it's always hard to get people going."
Additionally, the Badgers were playing one of the elite teams in the nation last weekend — a far cry from the porous defenses of teams like North Dakota and Minnesota State that the Badgers had been feasting on previously.
"We've been playing better teams, so [scoring] hasn't come as easily as it did in the beginning of the season," Zaugg said.
Especially challenging about last weekend's matchup was Duluth goalie Kim Martin.
Martin was far from overmatched when she faced the then top-ranked Badgers last weekend; she'd played in plenty of big games before.
As a 15-year-old, Martin played for Sweden at the Salt Lake City Olympics, and once again in Turin last year, helping the Swedes earn a silver medal in 2006. The freshman, who received a pre-season vote for conference player of the year despite never playing in WCHA game, notched 25 saves in her shutout Friday.
"We generated a lot of chances, but we just weren't putting the puck in the right places," Bauer said of the offense against Martin. "We shot a lot right at [Martin], and she was just gobbling [the puck] up."
Martin wasn't totally untested though; the Badgers were still able to put 57 shots on goal this weekend, not too far below their season averages.
With half of a season still to play, a one-goal performance in a two-game series isn't something to worry too much about, but this weekend's series against Robert Morris will tell the Badgers a lot about where they stand.
The Colonials are giving up a respectable 2.90 goals per game, and with a strong offensive showing, the Badgers should be able to put any questions about their offense that were raised after their performance last weekend behind them.
"We're having chances in practice," Zaugg said. "We'll have to capitalize if we want to be successful this weekend."
"We're trying to concentrate on shooting the puck and crashing the net, and generating some opportunities for ourselves, hopefully we can get that back this weekend," Bauer added.
Bauer will be especially focused on offense this weekend as the senior needs four more points to tie Meghan Hunter for the school's all-time scoring record.
And help for the Badgers is on the way.
After Wisconsin visits St. Cloud State next weekend, the Badgers will be rewarded with a month-long break that should give the team and the offense a chance to recharge. A second-half title run is going to rely heavily on the Badgers rediscovering their offensive fire power.