In a battle between east coast and Midwest coast, the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team set off to battle the Robert Morris University Colonials Saturday afternoon.
In the first NCAA playoff game of the season, it was clear RMU (24-5-6, 15-3-2 CHA) had some trouble adjusting to the Badgers’ (32-2-4-0, 22-2-4-0 WCHA) style of play. Though the Colonials created two power plays in the first period alone, Wisconsin still managed to dominate.
Defensively, the Colonials were not much better. The Badgers dominated for the vastmajority of the game, in some cases winning 2-on-1 or 3-on-1 battles against RMU.
Once Wisconsin found their momentum, it was clear RMU was out for the count. After her fourth goal allowed, the Colonials pulled goaltender Jessica Dodds, but her replacement, Lauren Bailey, did not provide any more security in net.
After being peppered with four goals in the second period, RMU seemed to be beat, as players and coaching staff alike skated to the locker room with their heads hanging low and a look of defeat on their faces. This attitude didn’t help the Colonials, and Wisconsin was eventually able to end the game with a 7-0 score.
But even though this weekend’s performance was less than stellar for the Colonials, the team made some noteworthy accomplishments this season. For a team that made its NCAA playoff birth this year and had to face down the No.1 team in the nation, RMU has a lot to be proud of.
UW will continue on their NCAA journey, heading to the Frozen Four Tournament next weekend. In the past, this has been one of the most challenging weekends for the Badgers.
For the last three years, the Badgers have struggled to get past the semifinal rounds of the Frozen Four, usually losing to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
This year is going to be much different for both teams, since Wisconsin and Minnesota will both play an ECAC team instead of their fellow WCHA contender. Wisconsin is going to be matched up against Boston College, and Minnesota will face Clarkson during the semifinal rounds.
This means that while the road to the NCAA finals might be slightly easier for UW— WCHA teams tend to come out on top when matched against an ECAC team — the finals themselves will be quite a challenge.
With a 1-1-2 record against Minnesota so far this season, facing the team in the final round of the Frozen Four Tournament could be one of the biggest obstacles this Badger team has faced.
Wisconsin prepares to head out to St. Charles, Missouri, later this week. The semifinal round against Boston College starts Friday, March 17 with the start time that is yet to be determined.