When thinking about the 2009-10 season for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team, the most readily available memory might be the 5-0 loss to Boston College in the national championship — a painful memory.
But despite missing out on a chance to complete any team’s ultimate goal, the Badgers still experienced one of their most dominant years in the program’s history, posting a 12-4-2 record against teams that were featured in the final top 15 national rankings.
After a slow 1-1-2 start, Wisconsin soon caught fire in a series against New Hampshire when the Badgers scored 10 goals on the weekend and only allowed two. Wisconsin rarely let up from there and claimed victories in 10 of their next 14 games before a three-week intermission.
The Badgers didn’t miss a step over that break, as they won the Badger Hockey Showdown in a thrilling shootout against Yale. Later that month, Wisconsin drew a tie against then-No. 1 Denver before notching a victory the following night when senior Michael Davies misdirected the game-winner into the back of the net with six minutes left in regulation.
Wisconsin closed out the rest of the regular season, going 11-2 before getting knocked out of the WCHA Final Five by St. Cloud State. Wisconsin, having never lost consecutive games all season, bounced back and took third place, ousting Denver again, 6-3.
Wisconsin showed dominance in the NCAA tournament before being deflated by Boston College in the final. UW downed Vermont and issued payback against St. Cloud before an 8-1 thrashing of the Rochester Institute of Technology — the most goals scored in a Frozen Four game since 1994.
Consistently inconsistent sounds contradictory, but ultimately it’s the best way to describe the 2009-10 season for the Wisconsin women’s hockey team.
Coming off a championship season, head coach Mark Johnson took a one-year sabbatical to coach the U.S. Olympic National Team in the 2010 Winter Olympics and took senior Meghan Duggan and junior Hilary Knight along with him.
The Badgers were unable to fill void left by the three as the team frequently played up and down to the level of each team in their path.
Wisconsin split 11 of 17 series, as they beat teams high in the national rankings and lost to bottom feeders of the WCHA. The Badgers were only able to put together a three-game winning streak once, though the team did also string together a five-game unbeaten streak.
The Badgers were ultimately able to keep their heads above water, posting an 18-13-3 overall record, finishing fourth in the WCHA.
The year did, however, feature two marquee events. Wisconsin welcomed back Johnson, Duggan, Knight and five other former Badgers when the U.S. National Team stopped by Madison for a friendly match. Though the U.S. won handily, 9-0, UW interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser called the homecoming-like atmosphere one of the highlights of her career.
A month later saw DeKeyser with a new career highlight, when Wisconsin ransacked Bemidji State, 6-1, under the blue skies of Camp Randall stadium. Fortunately, the largest a crowd women’s hockey game has ever seen was able to enjoy what was perhaps the Badgers’ best performances of the season.