After being plagued with injuries, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team is ready to take the ice at full strength. The Badgers hit the road this weekend to face the Ohio State Buckeyes in a WCHA showdown.
After being swept in one series and splitting two more series after break, the University of Wisconsin has suffered from holes in its lineup due to injuries. With a full lineup in tow this weekend, interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser hopes some of their struggles will be alleviated.
“We have a near full lineup, so that’s exciting,” DeKeyser said. “We have people healthy, for the most part. Hopefully it lends to our advantage.”
Even with a full lineup, the Badgers have had issues finding the back of the net this season. They have been consistently out shooting their opponents, but haven’t been able to seal wins.
While having the ability to keep creating scoring opportunities, the Badgers hope they can finally turn things around and get the puck in goal.
“We’ve [been] struggling with that all year — outshooting our opponents and them winning by a goal or something,” senior forward Jasmine Giles said. “We started the week off with a lot of goal-scoring drills, just crash the net, put the rebounds in.”
With hopes for a strong showing in Columbus, UW is ready to put everything on the ice.
Wisconsin last faced off with Ohio State in October and since then a lot has changed. Currently the Badgers are tied for third in the WCHA with Bemidji Sate with 20 points. Ohio State sits only three points behind in fourth. The series could have a lot of implications for the WCHA playoff picture. The squad knows not to underestimate.
“Road games are extremely important for us and Ohio State has a really good team despite what the rankings are right now. We’re ready to play our hardest,” defenseman Geena Prough said.
The road trip brings a different rink for the Badgers. The ice in Columbus is smaller than the Kohl Center, causing a different style of play.
As with any team, home has its advantages, but DeKeyser has been preparing her team for what the Buckeyes have in store for them.
“One thing that’s really different about playing them on a big rink versus a small rink is that they have a lot of good puck handlers and it’s to their advantage to play on a small rink, I think, it being their home facility,” DeKeyser said. “We’ve done a lot of close area battles, increasing the pressure on our players all week, trying to get them accustomed to having limited time and space for the upcoming competition.”
With the home ice advantage, the Buckeyes also have a strong offensive threat in freshman forward Hokey Langan.
Langan was named rookie of the week by the WHCA for the second time this season after scoring four goals in Ohio State’s 5-2 victory over Bemidji State last weekend. It’s safe to say the Badgers will be keeping their eyes on her.
“Whenever she’s on the ice, whoever is marked up against her needs to be aware,” DeKeyser said. “She’s got great hands, she can snipe the puck, she’s got a great slap-shot and wrist-shot. As a freshman, we can’t take her for granted. She understands the game; she’s a Canadian national team member. She’s a serious threat for their group. We have to be marked up well with her whenever she’s on the ice.”
“We just have to be aware when she’s out there,” Giles said. “She’s not that fastest player, but she can really move the puck around and has a really awesome shot. We just have to make sure to stay on her and know that she’s out there — shut her down. If she does score we’re going to have to counteract with some goals.”