Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Knight good as promised for Badgers

The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team has had a lot of success with freshmen in recent years, and Hilary Knight is no different ten games into the season. The preseason WCHA rookie of the year has been as good as Badgers head coach Mark Johnson could have hoped for.

"As far as doing the things on the ice, I think [Knight] is probably where we thought she would be at this particular point," Johnson said. "The things that are sort of out there that you don’t know how they are going to deal with is living in the dorms, adjusting to Madison, adjusting to college life and class schedules and the time management that these young athletes have to work with the first five or six weeks of school. The hockey part of it is just one element, and when you throw everything else into the equation, it becomes difficult and challenging. She has played in high-profile events, so her comfort level against the competition is there, and her point production up to this point isn’t a surprise."

Part of the reason that Knight has enjoyed early success is her experience with international hockey. Knight represented the United States in a three-game U-22 series between the United States and Canada this year, and was a member of the U.S. senior national team, making two appearances in 2006-07. She also earned a spot on the roster for the Four Nations Cup in November 2006 and was the youngest player on the U.S. squad at the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship.

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"Having played at a high level and having played against some of the top players in the world, her confidence and comfort level when things don’t go well is going to be a little farther ahead than maybe some younger players who haven’t had that experience," Johnson said. "Hilary has had both of those, because when she was at the Four Nations she played a little, but didn’t play a lot, and so she absorbed that type of role. With the world championships in Winnipeg, she played a lot in some games and didn’t play much in other games, and so for young players you are getting experience in different roles, and gaining confidence which is a big factor when you come into your university."

Expectations might have been two high

The Badgers have experienced so much success the past two seasons that the expectations for this season were extremely high. The Badgers are the two-time defending national champions and lost only one game last season. Along with those achievements, the Badgers also ended last season with a 26-game undefeated streak. Because of this past success, this year’s young team is being held to lofty standards, which are difficult to meet.

"If you told me at the beginning of the year that we are only going to lose one game, I would have said, ‘You’re nuts,’" Johnson said. "When we did lose a game I got the reaction of, ‘What is wrong?’ Well, the other teams are pretty good. They have gotten better, they are competitive, and they want to beat us."

St. Cloud State snapped Wisconsin’s NCCA record 32-game unbeaten streak when it beat Wisconsin 2-1 Oct. 19.

Rival Minnesota up next

Wisconsin is looking forward to playing a very tough Minnesota team this upcoming weekend. Minnesota just beat the previous No. 1 team in the nation, Minnesota-Duluth, 3-1 and 5-1 this past weekend.

"They are always going to have good teams, and they are always going to have good players," Johnson said. "Any time you play them, it is going to present a real tough task. Our job is to prepare our team and get ourselves ready to compete for 60 minutes both Friday and Saturday afternoon. As far as ranking programs, I want to say that both have very strong programs. They have won some national championships, and we have been fortunate to win some national championships."

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