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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


No. 1 Badgers to host No. 2 Minnesota at LaBahn this weekend in Border Battle

In an early season showdown, the two top-ranked teams in women’s hockey will square off when No. 2 Minnesota takes on No. 1 Wisconsin in a weekend series at LaBahn Arena.

Wisconsin (6-0, 4-0 WCHA) will play arguably their most anticipated and important regular-season series of the year when they take on their Border Battle rival Minnesota (3-0-1, 1-0 WCHA) Friday and Saturday.

It should be an entertaining series for the Badgers, who have outscored their opponents 30-4 on the season, including three shutouts. UW has totaled at least five goals in a game in four out of their six games so far this season. In their most recent series, which came against Ohio State last weekend, the Badgers outscored the Buckeyes 9-0 over the course of two games.


But Minnesota, considered one of the best, if not the best, program in women’s hockey, won’t be an easy task for the undefeated Badgers. Minnesota went 38-2-1 last season with their second loss coming in the NCAA Championship Game. In the 2012-2013 season, the Gophers went a perfect 41-0 and won their second straight NCAA Championship.

“History tells us when we get together with [Minnesota], it’s usually a very entertaining series,” Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson said. “The last couple of years not many people have been able to figure out Minnesota. They’ve beaten us, and so the challenge will be to prepare ourselves for Friday night. We’ve made progress in a lot of [different] areas and certainly will get tested this weekend.”

Wisconsin has been working hard improving on the small things in practice to make sure those skills transition into the game situations.

The Badgers certainly have the utmost respect for the Gophers, who defeated UW five times last season, including a victory over Wisconsin in the NCAA Frozen Four. UW’s last win over Minnesota came back in 2011.

“If we’re going to be successful, we have to go through Minnesota,” Johnson said. “They’ve been on top of the mountain here the last few years, and if you’re going to get to where you want to go, that’s a team that you’re going to have to beat.”

The seniors on the UW team are the only players to have beaten Minnesota, but they are confident that this can be the season to get those elusive wins against their border rival.

“I think we know how it feels to beat them, and we want everyone else to feel that feeling,” senior forward Brittany Ammerman said. “And I think this year as a whole, we are good enough to do it. Our confidence level is at a good spot right now.”

With high emotions in the game, the seniors will look to keep their composure while getting the younger players on the team to settle down, especially early on in the game.

So far, with 30 goals on the season, it seems like the entire Wisconsin team is playing well already, so this tough test against a highly-ranked team will help the Badgers understand where they stand in the big picture.

All three lines for the Badgers have been able to contribute goals, which has been a huge factor in their quick start. They will need everyone to contribute this weekend if they want to be victorious.

Last season, the first line scored the majority of the goals against the Gophers. Ammerman said Wisconsin’s newfound depth will offer a different dynamic and more scoring opportunities.

Minnesota’s biggest strength is on the power play, where they convert on about 53 percent of their opportunities.

Wisconsin sophomore goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens has back-to-back shutouts for the Badgers from last weekend when they swept Ohio State. Her goaltending will be crucial in stopping the Gopher attack.

The combination of Desbiens and selfless defenders who are willing to block shots has proven to be a winning formula thus far. The defense has been solid on the season, but Minnesota will be their toughest challenge in the 2014-2015 season to date.

“We will make sure we build and practice to get ready for it, and I will say that I am really excited about it. I would say the whole team is,” Desbiens said. “It’s going to be a fun weekend for us.”

Not only will this be a great learning opportunity for the young players, it gives an opportunity for the coaches to evaluate their talent in a competitive game, Johnson said. This weekend will also be used to test where the Badgers are as a team to see where they can get better.

“It’s early in the season and it’s a good time to go up against them and see where we’re at,” Johnson said.

Ammerman said the team does not look to shy away from this formidable opponent but relishes the opportunity to represent their team in this heated rivalry.

“We’re ready,” Ammerman said. “We’re not nervous, we’re excited.”

Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m. at LaBahn Arena, with Saturday’s game beginning at 3 p.m.

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