Using their prolific and relentless offense, the No. 3 Wisconsin's women's hockey team looks to win again Wednesday evening against conference rival Minnesota State. The Badgers, who are 8-1, have been rolling over opponents all season and have won eight games in a row.
The offense has been the key to the Badgers success all season, with the team averaging a lofty 4.3 goals per game. The offensive attack has also made things easy for the defense, as the their fore-checking keeps the puck in the opponent's zone for much of every game. This has resulted in having just 14 goals scored against the Badgers all season.
Junior forward and assistant captain Sara Bauer, who was named WCHA offensive player of the week, leads this offensive attack. Bauer scored six points in last weekend's sweep of St. Cloud State, and had four points in Friday's victory. She also scored a hat trick last season against the Mavericks in February.
The line of team captain Sharon Cole, Bauer and forward Jinelle Zaugg produced five goals and five assists in the series. The line has been performing well all season, with Cole and Bauer displaying incredible on ice chemistry and Zaugg using her size to camp in front of the opponent's goal and collect rebounds.
"We just need to play the best hockey we can," Cole said. "We're doing a good job of working together, moving the puck and moving our feet. Our communication is getting better … if we continue do what we have been, we'll do well."
The Badgers will look to continue this trend Wednesday against Minnesota State, a team the Badgers have already conquered. Wisconsin holds an all-time record of 24-0-1 against the Mavericks.
Head coach Mark Johnson stated he was not worried about a letdown.
"One of our mottos is we try to play well no matter who we're playing," Johnson said. "If you're playing a series against one of the top teams in the country it might be easier to get up for. But if you're a good team and you have good leadership in the locker room, you can get yourself for every game."
The Badgers defeated the Mavericks by a score of 4-1 in Mankato on Oct. 21. The second game was cancelled due to a burst water main near the arena. This mid-week game is a rarity for Johnson's squad.
"The tough part about tomorrow's game will be playing mid-week," Johnson said. "It throws the players off their routine and throws the whole team off. That will be the toughest challenge."
The Badgers must look out for the Mavericks' two best offensive players, freshmen forwards Maggie Fisher and Felicia Nelson. Fisher has 10 points on the season with eight goals and two assists while Nelson has five goals and two assists.
The Mavericks do have a relatively low scoring offensive attack, but their defense only allows a few goals to slip by. Minnesota State has allowed just 17 goals in nine games this season.
As the Badgers have done so well in previous games, they will look to control the puck in the Mavericks zone and wear down the defense. The Mavericks' goaltender Brit Kehler will likely face a high number of shots, as Wisconsin has peppered the opposing goalkeeper with a multitude of shots in most games this season. The Badgers out shot St. Cloud State 75-49 this past weekend at the Kohl Center and put 68 shots on goal in just one game against Vermont earlier in October.
It is unclear who will start Wednesday's game in goal, with Meghan Horras and Christine Dufour splitting every series so far this season. It is a possibility that freshman goaltender Jessie Vetter may get the nod for her first start of the season.
This game will be the first in many away from the Kohl Center. The Badgers will play six series on the road and will not play at the Kohl Center again until Jan. 20. Despite being away from the Kohl Center, Johnson isn't concerned.
"It (the long road trip) is broken up by the holidays, so that's OK," Johnson said. "If you want to do anything in this league, you have to win on the road. I just look at it as another game day, but sometimes you have to get on a bus or get on a plane."
The Badgers will play at St. Mary's University in Winona, Minn. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.