Who said women’s hockey isn’t as exciting as men’s hockey?
After 11 penalties on the weekend, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team opened up its WCHA season in one of the most physical games it has played in awhile.
Through the first two periods of Friday night’s 7-1 win over Bemidji State, Wisconsin found itself in the penalty box four times. While the Badgers know they can’t spend that much time in the box, they also realize they play in what is one of the most physical leagues in hockey.
“WCHA I think is the most physical league that’s out there,” junior forward Carolyne Prevost said. “Usually we don’t get so many penalties, but we’ll have to learn from them. They capitalized on one of them. We’ll have to move our feet a little better so we don’t get in those situations where we don’t have to take a penalty.”
The Beavers did score a goal with the man advantage on their second power play, but the Badgers special teams’ play was impressive.
For her first goal on the night, Prevost scored a short-handed goal to put the Badgers ahead in the second period. Only six minutes later she scored a power-play goal helping jump start the Badgers domination for the rest of the game.
“I think that was a big momentum changer for the game,” Prevost said. “It was tied 1-1 and just to get that lead. I think a lot of people had some pressure off their backs and we were able to relax a little.”
Bemidji State only had four penalties on the weekend, but adding in Wisconsin’s seven for a total of 11 in one series just proves how tough the WCHA is.
For a team that has undergone a few changes between this year and last year, one thing remains consistent: The penalty kill. BSU may have been able to use one of their power plays to their advantage, UW had a very successful penalty kill throughout the rest of the series.
“We killed a lot of penalties,” Prevost said. “A lot of times they couldn’t even get set up in the zone. We feed off that momentum always. To kill a penalty like that is huge in a WCHA game. Then we just go back, five-on-five and then we just have that momentum and continue from there.”
The Badgers certainly showed they’re a tough, physical team, but head coach Mark Johnson doesn’t want to spend so much time in the penalty box, still recognizing that some of the players are still developing.
“Those are things you want to stay away,” Johnson said. “They’re going to be part of the game and you’re not going to play many games where you don’t get any penalties. We made a couple of adjustments. We talked about things between the first and second period, how we could do a better job of killing. We have spend some more time in those areas. Some of the kids are still learning. The whole thing is trying to get better and improve as we go.”
They may still be improving in certain areas, but the Badgers are undefeated through four games scoring 22 goals on the season already. They may not be a top-notch team yet, or satisfied all around with their play, but one thing’s for sure: they have a target on their back and teams are going to try and hit them hard.
“It’s always going to be physical when you play a WCHA team,” freshman forward Brittany Ammerman said. “We always have a target on our back with the national championships that we’ve won. People are going to go after us and once we put the puck in the net it always gets a little chippier.”