Women’s hockey: Top-ranked Badgers head to Minnesota-Duluth for weekend series

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first_imgThis weekend the Wisconsin women’s hockey team is making their second consecutive road trip to the state of Minnesota, this time facing off against Minnesota-Duluth.In addition to having the best season start in program history, Wisconsin (10-0-0, overall, 8-0 WCHA) was recently ranked the No. 1 team in the nation. As a result of last weekend’s bye, Wisconsin will make its opening debut wearing this new crown for the first time this upcoming weekend.Head coach Mark Johnson and his team were last in action Halloween weekend, which resulted in an absolute steamroll over Minnesota State. Wisconsin won the first match 6-0, and followed with a relentless 7-0 victory the next day.Turning their attention toward preparation for this weekend’s matchup against Minnesota-Duluth, the Badgers are looking to utilize the extra practice time and well-deserved rest that their week off provided.“The one thing I know is that when Wisconsin plays Duluth, generally the games are pretty tight and pretty competitive,” Johnson said.Wisconsin has been almost flawless when taking the ice in Minnesota this season. Not only have the Badgers yet to allow a single loss there, they have yet to allow even a single goal in the Gopher State. In their two previous visits, the team has outscored its opponents (St. Cloud State and Minnesota State) a staggering 20-0.The Badgers offense is averaging five and-a-half goals per game and sophomore forward Annie Pankowski continues to lead the charge, netting a team-high nine goals on the season.The defensive effort has passed the point of phenomenal, and has now progressed to record-breaking levels this season. The last time that Wisconsin surrendered a goal to an opponent, was more than 40 days ago in the season opener series against Providence. This has also lead the Badgers to setting an NCAA record of eight consecutive shutout games.Junior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens has been crucial to this success, and is only eight minutes shy of the all-time NCAA record for consecutive scoreless minutes (in both men’s and women’s hockey). Jessie Vetter, the five-time IIHF World Women’s Championship gold medalist and Badger great, set that record.Even despite all of her accomplishments thus far, Desbiens said she is nowhere near perfect, noting her rebound control and playing communication can always use some work.“There are always little things that we can improve on, even if we don’t get scored on that often.” Desbiens said.Wisconsin faces off against Minnesota-Duluth in the AMSOIL Arena at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday.last_img

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