Women’s Hockey: Badgers eyeing redemption against North Dakota

first_imgA loss and a tie from the same series earlier this season are the only two blemishes on Wisconsin women’s hockey’s record (22-1-1).When the Badgers arrived in Grand Forks to battle North Dakota (13-6-3) at the beginning of December, they were the No. 1 team in the country. They were undefeated and riding a school record 18-game win streak.But when they rode the team bus back to Madison, they were no longer any of the above.The Badgers were stunned in the first game, falling to the Fighting Hawks 0-3, and tying 0-0 the next day.  With that, Wisconsin abruptly became familiar with a foreign concept this season: not winning.Along with the end to University of Wisconsin’s perfect season, any semblance of invincibility that may have stemmed from the team’s 18 straight victories came crashing back to reality.Wisconsin’s offensive trifecta of forwards Annie Pankowski, Emily Clark and Sarah Nurse will hit the ice this Saturday to renew hostilities with North Dakota. They are undeniably craving for a second chance to score on a defense that previously blanked them in back-to-back games.The three forwards have accounted for a combined 47 goals on the season, nearly half of UW’s 101 total. For such an explosive unit, it was no small feat for North Dakota to blank them.When discussing the Badgers’ scoring strategy for this weekend, junior forward and now the team’s leading goal scorer, Sarah Nurse (17), alluded to more of an evenly spread offensive attack.“I think a lot of people have been scoring even from our back-end … I don’t think there is that much pressure on any one person, I think we have scoring from all over,” Nurse said.Going into its previous meeting with North Dakota, UW’s juggernaut of an offense showed absolutely no sign of slowing down, let alone flat lining. The Badgers were averaging 4.7 goals per game, and had even scored as many as eight times in a single match this season before their surprising scoreless stumble to ND.With the need to bounce back in the rematch against North Dakota this weekend, Nurse made one thing very clear. The Badgers will be ready for a fight.“We’re very ready to play and we are very ready to not try and get those wins back, but to come and make a statement win,” Nurse added.Expect not only an intense battle on the ice this weekend, but also a remarkable battle of the minds between Wisconsin’s head coach Mark Johnson and North Dakota’s Brian Idalski.Idalski’s effective defensive scheme troubled the Badgers’ offense last time, causing frustration and forcing them away from the net. Essentially fighting Johnson’s get to the net mantra head on.Johnson will have to abandon a program-defining strategy in order to kick Wisconsin’s offense back into gear against the only team to blemish UW’s record this season.Keep an eye out for what should unfold as an exciting matchup between North Dakota starting senior goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie (1.6 GAA, 0.926 save percentage), and Wisconsin junior forward Sarah Nurse (17 goals, 9 assists).Nurse has scored five of the Badgers’ 16 total goals since returning from holiday break.The first puck drops at 2 p.m. Saturday and then again at 1 p.m. Sunday in the LaBahn Arena here in Madison.last_img

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