The No. 2 Badgers (4-0-0) welcome No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth (2-1-1) to LaBahn Arena this weekend in an early-season showdown of two top-five teams.
Following their dominant showing on the road against Mercyhurst (0-4-0) last weekend, the Badgers open WCHA play against a Minnesota-Duluth team fresh off of its own impressive performance against in-state rival, No. 3 Minnesota. The Bulldogs earned two key points against the Gophers securing a 2–2 shootout/win on Saturday after falling 5–2 in the first matchup on Friday.
Junior Abby Roque and senior Mackenzie Steffen enter this weekend having taken home WCHA weekly honors after leading the Badgers to two convincing victories against Mercyhurst. Roque was named WCHA Forward of the Week after she earned the NCAA’s first hat-trick this season in the Badgers’ 6–1 victory over Mercyhurst last Friday. It was Roque’s first career hat-trick at Wisconsin. The forward followed up her efforts with an assist in Saturday’s 5–3 win.
Steffen also earned four points against Mercyhurst, assisting on all three of Roque’s goals Friday and adding a goal for herself in Saturday’s game. She is now tied for the NCAA lead in points amongst all defenders. The Badgers have outscored opponents 20-6 this season.
Minnesota-Duluth heads to Madison after opening the season with two difficult matchups at home in then-No. 4 Boston College and No. 3 Minnesota. The Bulldogs first swept Boston College before earning two points against the Gophers. With nine freshmen, eight sophomores, five juniors and three seniors, the Bulldogs bring an inexperienced squad to Madison.
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But they are not without talent. The Bulldogs feature redshirt junior goalie Maggie Rooney, who earned a gold medal representing the United States in Pyeongchang last winter. Despite giving up five goals against Minnesota last Friday, the Duluth native earned her second consecutive WCHA Goaltender of the Week award after she totaled 78 saves over the weekend — good for the most in the country this season. The Bulldogs’ defense will receive a boost this weekend with the return of junior defenseman and co-captain Jalyn Elmes, who missed last weekend’s matchup.
Puck drops Saturday and Sunday are set for 2 p.m. CT.