The No. 1 Wisconsin women’s hockey team (9-1-0, 3-1-0 WCHA) will take its second road trip of the season to Mankato, Minn., for a weekend game against the Minnesota State Mavericks (4-3-1, 2-3-1 WCHA). The series begins Friday.
The last time the Badgers played away from Madison, they swept the Mercyhurst Lakers with ease. The team now looks to build on a successful home stint in which the Badgers went 5-1, the only loss coming in a 1-0 nail-biter Saturday against No. 3 Minnesota. Despite the loss, the team heads to Mankato riding high after an impressive 4-1 victory against Minnesota Sunday.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Badgers’ season so far, however, has been the play of freshman forward Sophie Shirley. After being named WCHA Rookie of the Week last week, Shirley was named WCHA Rookie of the Month on Thursday. She leads all freshmen with six goals and 10 points so far this season and has been a key contributor to an already skilled squad prior to her entrance. Her six goals lead the team.
Following Shirley’s lead this week was fellow freshman forward Britta Curl, who received WCHA Rookie of the Week honors Tuesday for her gutsy performance against Minnesota last weekend that featured 10 shots. Curl also registered two critical points in Sunday’s victory.
It is an understatement to say Wisconsin has fared well against Minnesota State in the past. The Badgers are 84-2-3 all-time against the Mavericks, including a 21-game winning streak that they will look to add upon this weekend.
Minnesota State, though, is off to its strongest start since the 2012-13 season. A major reason for their success has been freshman goaltender Abigail Levy, who leads the WCHA with a .954 save percentage, good for 11th in the country. Her 1.35 goals against average is tied for second in the WCHA. Levy was named WCHA Goaltender of the Month Thursday after earning two WCHA Goaltender of the Week awards.
The Badgers will be playing without a trio of key players this weekend who will be busy preparing for the upcoming Four Nations Cup. Senior Emily Clark will be representing the Hockey Canada team in her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, while fellow seniors Mikaela Gardner and Annie Pankowski were named to the USA Hockey roster. Gardner will be making her senior debut for USA Hockey.
Puck drops are set for 6 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday from the Verizon Center in Mankato. Saturday’s game can be watched live on the Fox Sports North channel.