Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Women’s Hockey: Analysis of key players, strategy behind Wisconsin’s consistent success

Transition play, early-season confidence leads to undefeated start to season
Soren Goldsmith

The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team has maintained a reputation as one of the greatest programs in the NCAA, much of that attributed to the leadership of head coach Mark Johnson.

Oct. 13, Johnson hit his 600th career win — becoming the first coach in NCAA Division I women’s hockey to reach the milestone. Despite this individual accomplishment, Johnson doesn’t attribute it to himself.

“We’ve had good players, and we’ve had some really good teams over the course of the 20-plus years I’ve been here,” Johnson said in an Oct. 18 press conference.


Johnson also emphasized his veteran status and surrounding cast within the UW women’s hockey program.

An example of his team’s fluidity was seven different players scoring in that 600th career win, where the Badgers took down Minnesota State University in a 9-0 rout.

“It’s a longevity thing,” Johnson said. “When you do something a long time and you have support staff, you put all that together, and the numbers start coming at you.”

Women’s Hockey: Win No. 600 for Johnson part of conference-opening sweep for UW

Combined with the work his players put in over the summer and the team’s comfort in their surroundings at LaBahn Arena, good transition play and puck movement have allowed the Badgers to advance through the first few weeks of their season with ease.

As confidence grows in the younger players — most notably the freshman — confidence grows in the whole team.

“[With wins in] the early part of the season for a lot of our young players, they’ve been able to have some success which builds their confidence, which makes us better,” Johnson said.

Despite forward Claire Enright being out with an unforeseen injury, the team continues to take advantage of power plays, putting 12 pucks in the back of the net with a .400 conversion percentage.

Additionally, their .622 face off win percentage allows the Badgers to control the game and create greater opportunities to attack. Johnson emphasized the importance of a strong start.

“[E]specially early on in the season, if you can play at a certain pace and a certain tempo, it’s helpful,” Johnson said. “You’re going to get opportunities and create some chances.”

Enright played a key role in the Badgers’ success in the 2022-23 season. The sophomore tallied four goals and 11 assists, good for 15 points as a key contributor on the offensive end of the puck.

Johnson elaborated on the recovery time of Enright, as UW will earn a boost in performance with her presence on the ice.

“I don’t have an answer for Claire,” Johnson said. “They’re doing their rehab, but if I’ve been out for an extended period of time, it’s going to take a chunk of time to get back into game shape.”

Though he is uncertain about Enright’s return, he sees great potential in his current team.

The team’s early-season performance has elevated heavily due to their exceptional transition game — a strategic advantage that has set them apart in the competitive arena. Johnson praises the team’s ability to swiftly counterattack and create abundant scoring opportunities which have resulted in numerous goals.

UW utilized this strategy to outscore Bemidji State University 12-1 in their fourth weekend of play — advancing to 8-0-0 on the year.

“Our transition game early on has been really good,” Johnson said. “We can counterattack, and we’ve created scoring opportunities and gotten goals by doing that.”

Women’s Hockey: Wisconsin sweeps Boston College in home opener

Eight games into the season, forward Lacey Eden leads the team in goals with 11. With 66 goals on the year, UW is averaging just above eight goals per game through the first eight matchups. Forward Britta Curl has been a difference-maker on the offensive end as well, pacing the team with 15 assists and 23 total points.

The preparation of the team — combined with the star power they present — has been an early formula for success for the Badgers, no matter who they are playing.

“Our approach as coaches doesn’t change,” Johnson said. “Your preparation is the key to the weekend, and you’ve got to be able to outwork your opponent.”

Looking ahead, the Badgers’ early-season triumphs are a testament to their strategic finesse. With a remarkable transition game and an ability to capitalize on scoring opportunities, the team’s determination is resolute as they set their sights on conquering further challenges throughout the season.

Through four conference games, UW remains undefeated and continues to maintain their spot as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation — avoiding complacency after early success.

“Whether it’s home or away, we can’t change how we prepare or how we play no matter who we’re playing,” forward Maddi Wheeler said after an 8-1 victory over Bemidji State. “So I think we need to continue to do what we’re doing and get better on the things we need to.”

Johnson’s profound appreciation for the dedicated fanbase underscores the spirit of unity and support that resonates within the Wisconsin hockey community. Their shared enthusiasm and commitment to the team’s success serve as a powerful reminder of the integral role played by fans in fostering a vibrant sporting culture.

With Johnson’s leadership and the team’s relentless drive, the Badgers continue to cement their legacy as arguably the most formidable force in women’s collegiate hockey.

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