[media-credit name=’JAKE NAUGHTON/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′][/media-credit]
Two national championships, 133 career points, 2007 Frozen Four All-Tournament Team, 2008 team captain. What? do all of these accomplishments have in common? For one, they rank at the very top of the many accolades senior forward Jinelle Zaugg has racked up in her time as a member of the UW women?s hockey team. But they can all also trace their roots back to one day when a young Zaugg got her start in the sport that has now become a large part of her life.
?When I was eight, my brother?s team needed an extra player, so I jumped in and played with the boys for a year and ended up winning state, which was really cool,? Zaugg recalled. ?After that, my dad started a girl?s club team that I was able to play on until I was in high school.?
While in high school, Zaugg once again played with the boys, where she went on to receive the Most Improved Player award her freshman and junior seasons.
In her junior and senior years, she participated in the Junior Olympic Camp and started to develop a reputation as a powerful player with an extremely strong shot, a characteristic she still calls her greatest strength as a player.
?Lots of goalies have a hard time reading my shot because I have such a long reach,? Zaugg said.
Zaugg?s numbers at UW lend credence to that claim. In her first year in Madison, Zaugg managed to score 12 goals on 15 percent shooting, but as she grew into coach Mark Johnson?s system, her percentage has increased each of the last two years. With her 24 goals in 2005, she established herself as a major threat on a championship-bound Badgers team. But it wasn?t until her junior year that she had everyone in the WCHA buzzing with a 29-goal season ? 20 of which came in conference play ? an amazing accomplishment that nearly doubled her conference scoring output from a year before (12 goals).
Even more astounding was that eight of Zaugg?s team-leading 29 goals were game-winners, cementing her reputation as a clutch player.
With the closing force of Zaugg and the nation?s best player in Sara Bauer, UW cruised to its second national championship in 2006, with the junior forward leading the way in the championship game against UMD. Zaugg notched two of the three goals in the game and garnered All-Tournament honors.
With all that she and her teammates have accomplished while at UW, it’s understandable that Zaugg had a lot of trouble trying to pick out her most cherished memory as a Badger.
?My most memorable moment would probably have to be the first national championship,? Zaugg said. ?It?s so hard to pass up something like that, especially beating a rival like Minnesota right in their own backyard with my whole family there to watch me.?
However, not soon after she had determined that, more games came to mind for the senior, highlighted by a four-overtime contest?with Harvard last year that finally ended with her goal.
?That Harvard game is so hard to pass up, though,? Zaugg said. ?Between the fans and the length of the game, playing in that atmosphere was just amazing.?
Coming into the 2007-08 season, Zaugg and her teammates have had to deal with lofty expectations, standard fare for a group coming off back-to-back championships.
Of course, Zaugg?s experience could not go overlooked, as she was named a captain for the three-peat campaign, something she tries to downplay.
?I just try and be the same person I have always been,? Zaugg said. ?My role hasn?t really changed. I still try and be someone who freshmen can count on to be there to help them out. That role is just as important to me as what I do as a leader on the ice.?
Zaugg?s leadership certainly showed its full colors over winter break in Wisconsin’s series with conference rival Ohio State, where she scored two goals on nine shots and helped lead the team to a much-needed sweep heading into Friday?s contest with St. Cloud State, a team that stole a win from Wisconsin earlier on in the year.
With the 2008 Frozen Four less than two months away, Zaugg still has time to add a few more achievements to her list.