Wisconsin faces 1-and-done situation against Mercyhurst

first_imgBrooke Ammerman has had a standout season for the Badgers, racking up 74 points on 32 goals and 42 assists. After a tough loss to UMD in the second round of the WCHA tournament last Friday, Ammerman is confident UW is back on track.[/media-credit]A do-or-die situation is upon the No. 1 ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team as they enter the NCAA tournament.The Badgers (31-4-2, 23-3-2 WCHA) earned the top seed in the tournament and will host Mercyhurst at home Saturday night in the quarterfinal round. The chance to prolong their season is at stake, as the winner in the one-game series will advance to the Frozen Four.For head coach Mark Johnson, the upcoming game is an exciting event, but also the most challenging game to win.“If you win the game then you are only two steps from a national championship, but if you lose the game you don’t really get that feeling of being close,” Johnson said. “It is a hard game to win, I think having been through it a few times the players understand that.”After suffering an upset loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the semifinal round of the WCHA playoff tournament last Friday, UW is determined to learn from its mistakes and push forward, with one eye on another national championship.Friday’s game presented the Badgers with ample opportunities. Johnson said although not playing a bad game, the team was not able to execute when it came down to crunch time.Going only 1-9 on power plays against the Bulldogs, the Badgers have been working on improving their performance on special teams at practice this week. Sophomore forward Brittany Ammerman said she believes the loss will serve as motivation for the upcoming game.“I think we have definitely put [the loss] behind us and we are using it as fuel to the fire for this weekend,” Ammerman said. “It is one of the most fun weekends of the year, it is our last stand at home and a lot of people come to this game so there will be a lot of good energy.”Mercyhurst enters the game with an overall record of 23-7-3 and, similar to UW, lost its last game. The Lakers fell to Robert Morris in the College Hockey America League Championship, 3-2.The Badgers will have to keep an eye on forward Bailey Bram, who leads the Lakers’ scoreboard with 68 points this season. Bram was also a top 10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which is given to the top player each season.For Wisconsin’s sophomore goaltender Alex Rigsby, the offensive production Mercyhurst is capable of is met with confidence.“I have been told they shoot a lot. I am excited for that part; I always like getting a lot of shots,” Rigsby said. “Everyone is really excited about this weekend to play against Mercyhurst. It is a different team that we have never played against so far.”The two teams have met only twice before in the NCAA tournament, the last time being in the 2009 championship game in which the Badgers shut out the Lakers in a 5-0 win.Wisconsin remains focused on the game ahead and is eager to begin play, hoping to repeat last year’s success as national champions. The program has achieved four national titles in the past six years under Johnson. A fifth title would tie the Badgers for the most national championships with Minnesota-Duluth.But despite success in the past, the Badgers are not underestimating their opponent.“You have eight teams capable of winning the national championship and it comes down to the ability to come out on the ice Saturday and execute,” Johnson said. “It should be a good match up there, should be a lot of excitement.”last_img

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