Coming off back-to-back victories over St. Cloud last week, the women’s hockey team is looking to continue its successful start.
With two solid wins (5-1 in the first game, 4-2 in the second game), the No. 4 Badgers are currently tied with Minnesota for first place in the WCHA.
But Wisconsin isn’t getting ahead of itself–the Badgers know there’s a lot of hockey left to be played.
With a long season ahead of them and new players occupying one-third of the roster, the Badgers are still trying to figure out what it’s going to take to find success.
“Our ultimate goal this season is to make the Final Four,” said goalie Jackie MacMillan. “But I think our more prominent goal right away in the beginning of the season is to start off the year better than we did last year.”
Since only the top four teams make the Frozen Four, the Badger ultimate goal of the season is to make this prestigious tournament. Last year, the Badgers just missed the mark as they finished the season ranked No. 7.
“Last year a lot of people thought we should have possibly been ranked higher than seventh, and its nice to get the recognition for all of that,” said junior Kendra Antony, who was named WCHA Player of the Week after tallying two assists in UW’s season opener. “There are high expectations for our team. We have a lot of talent and should go far.”
A lot of UW’s talent is on the offense, yet head coach Trina Bourget is also giving praise to her team’s defensive unit.
“We’ve probably got one of the strongest defensive corps in the country with the four we got back there,” Bourget said.
The quartet to which Bourget refers is team captain Sis Paulsen, Kerry Weiland, Molly Engstrom and Carla MacLeod.
Last year Paulsen was a co-captain for the team and was named to the WCHA All-Tournament team. Weiland was a Jofa/AHCA Second-Team All-American and led the WCHA with 37 assists.
Though Engstrom and MacLeod are new additions to the team this year, they are not without experience. Engstrom had 31 points in 35 games as a senior in high school, and MacLeod has been a member of the Under-22 Canadian National Team since 1999.
With the addition of these newcomers, the Badgers will have a lot of depth this season.
“In previous years we had one or two solid lines, and right now, just last weekend we ran four lines,” said Antony. “We still had some players that were out, so that’s going to add even more.”
Antony also offered praise for the freshman class.
“I think maybe [the freshman are] the best class,” Antony said “They’ve definitely made a huge impact, not only in games but in practice too, just heightening the level of play.”
The play of her team’s newest players pleased Bourget last weekend.
“[The freshmen] are elite level players coming in right away,” Bourget said.
“It’s been amazing with our first series at St. Cloud. We had so many people gone. Four players were playing in the WCHA All-Star Tournament and two were gone for the Canadian Under-22 series against Sweden. We only had about eight people, so I was a little concerned about that going into St. Cloud, but they just played really well together.”
This weekend the team plays two games at home against the University of Connecticut, who, under the tutelage of head coach Heather Linstad, is looking to build a name for itself.
As for the Badgers, they’re going to just take it one game at a time.
“We have to take it game by game and put ourselves in the situation to get those big goals,” said Paulsen. “As long as we perform [well in] each game, then come the end of the season maybe we can accomplish those goals we set at the beginning.”