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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Badgers hope to benefit from bye week

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Wisconsin freshman Becca Ruegsegger has split time with senior Alannah McCready in four games this season for the Badgers.[/media-credit]
After going just 2-2 over its first two series, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team used its bye week to work out some kinks and prepare for action again this weekend. Interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser has had to work around the temporary loss of head coach Mark Johnson and forwards Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight to the U.S. National Team and admitted the bye was a welcome reprieve.

“It was. Actually, it was nice. It was sunny too, so I think it was a mental break,” DeKeyser said. “I know with the school year — the way it fell — it was a great academic break for them just to concentrate on their upcoming exams or as a relief to a series of exams they had last week. So [you have] got to remember they’re student athletes as well, and that’s difficult at times.”

This was the earliest the Badgers have had their bye week over the past seven years. While the team usually uses the time for its national two-on-two championship, the timing meant UW used the bye to work on skills and get some extra practice.

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“You know, we don’t only have new players, we have a bunch of players whose roles have changed considerably as veterans, so that’s been quite the adjustment as well,” DeKeyser said.

Focus needed

The Badgers split their series against both North Dakota and Bemidji State, giving them their worst four-game start since their inaugural season of 1999-2000, when they went 1-2-1. Last season’s national championship team didn’t record its second loss until its 29th game. The loss to the Beavers was especially troublesome, as it gave Bemidji State just its second win ever against UW.

Despite the early troubles, DeKeyser remains positive.

“Yeah, we just keep reminding them we’ve had numerous chances we haven’t been able to execute or finish, which is, you know, one of the hardest things to teach or to find in a player,” DeKeyser said.

DeKeyser also mentioned that the team would be expected to execute better. Although they outscored their opponents 6-1 in their two wins, the Badgers were shut out in their two losses. Tightening up the defensive play and getting a more consistent mental effort will be stressed.

“I think as a group we need to work a little bit more on our defensive game, not giving up opportunities against teams that we could do pretty well against,” DeKeyser said. “So that’s been more the focus as a team, just the defense-first mentality.”

DeKeyser not worried about goaltending

With the departure of goaltender Jessie Vetter to graduation, the Badgers lost arguably one of the best women’s hockey players in NCAA history. For the first time in years, UW is uncertain between the pipes, relying on a tandem of senior Alannah McCready and freshman Becca Ruegsegger.

Both players are 1-1 on the season, and the rotation may continue if neither player steps up to become the No. 1 starter. UW’s goaltenders will also need to get a more consistent effort from the players in front of them.

“Actually, they both performed pretty well. Unfortunately, we’ve had a couple goals that were probably team defense mistakes, most definitely,” DeKeyser said.

“And so, yeah, I think right now we’re in a good spot from a goaltending standpoint, and we’ll just continue to see how they develop, especially our freshman. She’s kind of the unknown variable right now, but I foresee good things for Becca.”

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