After a tough weekend in Minneapolis that saw the Badgers (18-3-3, 13-3-2 WCHA) get swept by their rival Gophers, they look to bounce back against a lower-level opponent in St. Cloud State (8-13-1, 3-12-1 WCHA).
For the first time all season, Wisconsin is not the number one team in USCHO’s national poll. The Badger’s dropped to No. 3 in the nation, now tied with Ohio State — who they swept at home earlier in the season. Wisconsin now trails to No. 1 Northwestern and No. 2 Minnesota.
For a team that had hopes of going down in the history books as one of the greatest collegiate hockey teams ever, losing three out of four to your arch-rival Minnesota will put a damper on that narrative.
Still, The Badgers are in prime shape to make a national championship run. Casey O’Brien still leads the nation in goals and goals per game, while also in the top five for points per game. Badger legend Daryl Watts also jumped into the top 15 for both of those categories.
St. Cloud currently sits at 7th in the WCHA standings, and only has three division wins all year. Wisconsin shouldn’t have much of an issue against this team, but hockey will forever be unpredictable.
If you want to be one of the great teams in history, you have to prepare for each game the same way. Thus, what is there to look out for in St. Cloud’s team?
Taylor Lind and Emma Gentry are the Huskies’ one-two punch that any opponent has to look out for. Lind leads the team in points and is the only player on this roster who has double-digit assists. Gentry has 12 goals on the year and is top 15 in the nation in goals per game.
It’ll be interesting to see who the Huskies send out to guard the net this weekend, as they have two good options on their roster. Sanni Aloha has been the primary starter so far this season for St. Cloud. The Sophomore from Helsinki, Finland has posted a decent 3.80 goals against average, and an 89% save percentage.
Emma Pouslny is the other option for St. Cloud but has started fewer games than Aloha. Despite the lack of starts for Pouslny, she has sported better stats up to this point in the season. She has a 2.79 goals against average and a 92% save percentage.
St. Cloud head coach Steve Macdonald has a tough decision on his hands as the UW offense is as high-powered as they come.
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Despite some extremely hard-to-swallow losses this season, they can still emerge as the best team in the country come March.
Before they start focusing on the tournament, however, they have a very tough remaining schedule ahead of themselves. No. 5 Minnesota Duluth comes to Madison next weekend, and then two weeks later Wisconsin travels to Columbus to finish the season and take on No. 2 Ohio State.
Despite the lack of potential competition, this weekend contains important points that The Badgers need to rack up in St. Cloud.