The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team will have the honor of hosting the South Korean Olympic hockey team at LaBahn Arena this Saturday.
The Badgers are welcoming the South Korean team as part of an international exchange between countries during Olympic years. Back in 2012, the Badgers also welcomed the Japanese Olympic team as part of the same program.
The South Korean team will travel to Wisconsin first, before traveling to other Western Collegiate Hockey Association schools. They are coming off of their first win in program history back in February, when the Korean team won their first game in 20 years during the Asian Winter Games.
Korea managed to garner their first win against the Thai national team, sweeping them 20-0 during the preliminary round of play. Korea would then go on to lose against Japan 3-0 and Kazakhstan 1-0 to earn the bronze medal in the tournament.
The Badgers are also dealing with several loses in recent history. They are still fresh off their Frozen Four final loss to Clarkson last year, and lost two of four of their main forwards, top two defenders and their star goaltender.
With Sarah Nurse, Sydney McKibbon, Jenny Ryan, Mellissa Channell and Ann-Renee Desbiens all graduating in the spring of 2017, and Annie Pankowski and Emily Clark both leaving to play for their respective Olympic teams, the Badgers are a few scorers short. This year will be a great year for players to step up and make a name for themselves in the WCHA.
This game also is a chance for the team to see what the loss of Pankowski and Clark will truly be like for this team. While this is the second time that the team has been without Pankowski because of the Olympics, this will be the first time that they are also missing Clark.
Pankowski lead the team in scoring last year, with 25 goals and 30 assists giving her a grand total of 55 points for the year. Clark was in third, with 20 goals and 26 assists.
Overall, the Badgers will be without their top four scorers from the 2017-18 season. The good news is that they maintain their fifth highest scorer, Abby Roque, who netted eight goals and 20 assists for UW during her freshman year.
Of course, this is not the first time that the Badgers have been in this situation, and Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson has been anticipating this situation. Johnson is known for making the best team in the WCHA with talented players from across the nation, and there is no doubt this team will prove to be just as successful as those of the past.
The exhibition game between the two teams will take place at 6 p.m on Saturday, with free admission for all who want to attend.