There was an aura of both great pride and confidence Saturday evening as the Grateful Red locked shoulders with one another and sang Varsity for the last time in LaBahn Arena this season.
University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team returned to form in front of the home crowd this weekend after defeating eighth seeded Minnesota State by scores of 4-0 and 6-0 in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.
The Badgers (31-3-0, 24-3-1 WCHA) came out of the gates firing on all cylinders this weekend. UW’s offense dominated the time of possession, and its relentlessness created a stranglehold on the Mavericks’ mobility. As a result, Minnesota State was unable to establish any sort of coordinated offensive threat whatsoever.
Wisconsin outscored Minnesota State 10-0 this weekend, but the more telling statistic behind the number of goals scored is really the number of shots taken. And the Badgers were able to line up 106 more shooting opportunities than their opponents in the series.
Knowing that Saturday could be the final game of the season for Minnesota State, the Mavericks made it clear that they weren’t going to leave without a fight. In the first period alone, the referees had to intervene on three separate occasions to prevent any further skirmishes.
One of the most promising takeaways from the Badgers’ first round showing was the true team effort and balance in scoring production. With seven different players accounting for a total of 10 goals in the series, Wisconsin’s offense proved once more to be one of the most dynamic attacks in the country.
“The object is to try to score and when you do everyone gets excited, which creates energy for us and helps to elevate our game,” head coach Mark Johnson said.
The Badgers’ chemistry as a team on and off the rink this season has certainly been noteworthy.
Following Saturday’s victory, the Badgers made history yet again this year. Junior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens set the National College Athletic Association record for most shutouts in a single season, tallying a total of 18.
“The more I think about it, the more amazing it is when you think that we have only played 36 games and that half of them have been shutouts,” Johnson said.
It certainly makes it easier for an offense to perform the way that Wisconsin’s has been this year, when the team knows just what kind of support they have on the other end of the rink.
Saturday’s victory sealed UW’s perfect, undefeated home record this season, giving the fans one last thing to celebrate before marching into the next round of the WCHA tournament to face Minnesota Duluth next week.