The No. 1 University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team takes off for Potsdam, New York this weekend to take on the Clarkson University Golden Knights.
This is one of the Badgers (3-0-1, 3-0-1 WCHA) three non-conference games this year, and the first time these two teams have ever played one another.
The unfamiliarity between the two teams will present a challenge, since neither has seen the other one’s style of play. This event will be one of the neutral matchups for the Badgers this year and should be an interesting early round challenge for them.
This is also a matchup between the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, or the two conferences that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Frozen Four final. Statistically, the ECAC has only won one Frozen Four final since its creation in 2001, falling to a WCHA team every other time.
The Badgers walk into the weekend with their heads still held high as the nation’s best, coming off of their first home win of the season. Wisconsin also managed to hold on to their NCAA first place ranking, so this is clearly a team that is poised to stay at the top for a while.
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This will be the first of three ECAC-WCHA matchups for UW this season, with the other two against Cornell University and Lidenwood University, happening much later in the year. This temporary break bookends a long month of intense WCHA competition for Wisconsin, so it’s the perfect time for them to smooth out minor errors of play.
The Badgers will also be at full strength, with sophomore forward Sophia Shaver coming back into the lineup after a temporary absence. Shaver missed out on the overtime thriller and eventual tie with the Ohio State University Buckeyes due to a family emergency, and finally got back to practicing with her team this week.
Last week’s modified lines caused confusion and a sense of chaos to run throughout the team, and many passes and shots missed their intended targets. Hopefully with Shaver’s return, the Badgers can get back to a sense of normalcy before being tested on the road by the likes of the University of North Dakota.
The Golden Knights (2-1-1, 0-1-1 ECAC) are coming off of a rivalry loss and tie last weekend, so their only advantage is going to be the fact that they will be on home ice. Other than that, it seems as if Wisconsin is walking into this week’s contest with a strong upper hand.
Both Friday and Saturday’s contest are at 2 p.m. and will air on clarksonathletics.tv.