Six down, two to go.
After a perfect home stand to start off the season, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team closes out its home slate against Minnesota State Mankato (2-3-1, 1-3-0) this weekend.
Sporting an undefeated record, the Badgers (6-0-0, 4-0-0) hope to stay perfect through two more games at the Kohl Center before hitting the road.
“Well, you know you want to take care of business at home and obviously we’ve had a great home stand up to this point,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “I don’t know who put the schedule together, but to give us eight straight home games, you know you certainly want to grab your points now and be successful here. It’s nice for the younger players, it’s nice for the group to get some confidence and put some nice wins behind us.”
Mankato isn’t the strongest of the WCHA teams, but Wisconsin isn’t going to underestimate it. Last season, the Badgers lost their first game ever to the Mavericks after 46 wins.
The Badgers may hold a huge advantage over the Mavericks throughout the series at 43-1-2, but they know it’ll still be a tough battle on the ice.
“Most of the games you look at four or five years ago you could predict, whereas now, a lot of the games we look at around the country on the women’s side becomes a toss up,” Johnson said. “If you want to win, there’s certain things you have to do. If you don’t do those things, then you run the risk of giving the game away or losing a hockey game.”
The Mavericks have had six different players score goals, and freshman forward Kathleen Rogan leads the team with four goals and two assists.
While Mankato has given up 20 goals on the season already, they’ve also scored three or more goals in each of their wins. As a result, Wisconsin won’t be letting up or taking plays off on defense.
“Mankato is a hard working team and they’re going to come at us the whole game,” senior defenseman Geena Prough said. “We have to be prepared to play a whole 60 minutes.”
“I think it’s the same as any other weekend, any other team that we’re playing,” junior forward Carolyne Prevost added. “I don’t really know much about them this year, obviously they have a new team. We’ll just prepare this week.”
The Badgers feel confident they’ll have a successful weekend, but instead of playing at night, they have to start sharing the Kohl Center with the men’s team, pushing their game time up to 2 p.m.
Johnson is focusing on getting his team prepared for an earlier game with just as much strength and focus as if it was a few hours later.
“The hard part is getting ready for a Friday afternoon game compared to a night game,” Johnson said. “The kids have classes during that period of time. I’m trying to work with the players to be focused and ready to play when they drop the puck.”
Before heading out on the road next weekend, Wisconsin needs to take care of business at home.
Prough knows the squad will use the crowd at home to pump them up and help them play their kind of hockey.
“We’re going to feed off of the crowd at the Kohl Center,” Prough said. “That always gets us going. We’re 6-0 right now, so we obviously want to stay undefeated and just keep working hard and play our game. Hopefully we’ll be successful at the end of the weekend.”