A raucous crowd of Badger faithful fans welcomed home their 2011 national champion Wisconsin women’s hockey team Monday evening at the Nicholas Johnson Pavilion in the Kohl Center with a loud, trophy-filled celebration.
The Wisconsin marching band brought the ceremony to order as the master of ceremonies, Brian Posick, called each member of the team onto the stage one-by-one until they all stood before the crowd, donning their national championship hats.
Before Mark Johnson and several other Badgers were called to the podium to speak to their adoring fans, a few guest speakers addressed the audience.
First, Chancellor Biddy Martin gave her praise to the team.
“I’m just here to congratulate the best hockey players in the world,” Martin said. “What an extraordinary achievement: four national championships in six years. … Winning as a team, winning for the university and winning in the right ways. I congratulate each and every one of you, you’ve given us a marvelous sense of enjoyment for the entire season.”
After Martin finished, Athletic Director Barry Alvarez was summoned to the podium. He spoke of several Wisconsin athletic programs that had performed well this past weekend, including the men’s basketball team, which earned a bid to the Sweet 16, and Maggie Meyer, who won a national championship in swimming.
Finally, Mark Johnson was called to speak about his team and their great season, culminating in the national championship.
“Just look at our last four games,” Johnson said. “Our overtime game against Minnesota in their back yard, our quarterfinal game against Duluth, our semifinal game against Boston College and our final game yesterday against [Boston], probably the four best teams in the country and [we] beat them all.”
The Badgers racked up a program-record 37 wins this season and went 27 straight games without a loss to finish the season.
The team might not have realized its success without the next speaker, senior captain and Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, forward Meghan Duggan.
Duggan delivered an emotional speech when she was handed the microphone.
“I don’t think I could paint a picture any better than the weekend we just had,” Duggan said. “You look at these trophies up here and we worked hard day-in and day-out for every single one of those. We battled hard through adversity, through overtime, shootouts. I’m just so proud of the girls, we had an outstanding season and that’s how you sum it up. I’m really excited to bring these trophies back to Mad Town and share them with all of you guys.“
In the championship game against Boston Sunday, junior winger Carolyne Prevost scored two goals, including the empty-netter that sealed the deal for the Badgers.
Prevost was next on the bill to speak to the beckoning crowd and spoke of the type of relationship she and the rest of her teammates had throughout the season.
“I’m from Canada and I don’t get to see my family very often,” Prevost said. “I have four sisters, but this has been my family here and it has been awesome.”
The final speaker of the evening was senior Carla Pentimone. Pentimone did not see much ice time during the season, but many of her teammates called her the glue of the group.
At the podium, she spoke of her dream of playing for the Badgers and of being part of a national championship team. Pentimone had a difficult time holding back the tears while she reflected on the season and her teammates.
“This group this year had all the ingredients to produce a national championship team,” Pentimone said. “The chemistry, love and enthusiasm that we all shared was something truly magical.”
Each speaker made sure to thank the fans, who came out to celebrate in waves, for their support throughout the season.
“I think I speak on behalf of the entire team when I say thank you,” Duggan said. “I think that the Wisconsin women’s hockey team has the best women’s hockey fans in the country, so thank you very much.”