For the first time in a month, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team will be skating on their home ice against the Bemidji State University Beavers.

The Badgers (9-0-1, 7-0-1 WCHA) have spent more than half the month of October on the road, with challenging matchups in almost every game. Even though this weekend’s battle is not expected to be quite as tough as others, Wisconsin will finally get the support of their home crowd.

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Bemidji State (4-5-1, 2-5-1 WCHA) might not boast a fantastic record this season, but that doesn’t mean the Beavers won’t pose a threat to the Badger defense anchored by goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens. Bemidji has handed loses to teams such as Ohio State University, Syracuse University and even No. 2 University of Minnesota.

Taking down impressive teams such as these means that the Beavers have earned more than enough reason for Badgers to fear an upset. As if there wasn’t enough on their plate with the NCAA rule changes this year, the Badgers might find themselves short-handed as they try to fend off a talented team.

UW’s defense will certainly have a challenging weekend ahead of them, even without the threat of special teams being used. This means that the Badger defense will not only have to do their best to prevent penalties but also be ready to jump into a penalty kill situation at any point.

“We’ve had to use our [penalty kill unit] a lot this year already,” senior defensemen Jenny Ryan said. “It’s just being extra careful to make sure you’re not doing the things you know [the referee] is going to call.”

No. 1 ranked Wisconsin must also deal with a modified line this weekend. The Badgers will lose junior forward Annie Pankowski for the weekend since she is competing with team USA in the Four Nations Cup. While this poses yet another obstacle for UW, junior forward Emily Clark believes that this team is ready to step up to the challenge.

“[Bemidji] is always hard to play against,” Clark said. “They work hard, and they clog up the middle. I think it’s just going to be a tough weekend, especially with [line mate Pankowski] at [the Four Nations Cup] and a shorter bench, but I think we’re excited for Saturday night.”

The Badgers hit the ice at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, with live statistics presented online via UWAthletics for both matches.