Above: Junior captain Ashleigh Brykaliuk clears the puck in UMD's mid-October sweep of Minnesota-State. They return to Amsoil Arena for the first time since that sweep to face the No. 1 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. Alex Ganeev/Statesman BY JIMMY GILLIGAN | The Statesman
When: UMD (4-6, 2-4 WCHA) vs. UW (10-0, 8-0 WCHA): Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m, at Amsoil Arena.
Wins haven’t come easy for the women’s hockey team this year, as they’ve already seen three of the top five teams in the USCHO Poll. This weekend when No. 1 University of Wisconsin comes to town, they’ll meet their fourth.
“They are a very complete team. Yes. they have prolific goal scorers with (Annie) Pankowski out there and (Emily) Clark, but they also have really good defenders and a really good goaltender. So it’s a very good team from top to bottom,” UMD head coach Maura Crowell said.
The Badgers are not only undefeated, they also haven’t allowed a goal in their last eight games, or their last 440 minutes and 52 seconds on the ice. UW’s goaltender, Ann-Renée Desbiens, needs about eight minutes without allowing a goal Friday to have the longest shutout streak in the history of both NCAA hockey—men’s and women’s.
“I didn’t even know that,” Crowell said, of Desbiens’ nearing the record. “Let’s have a fast start and get after her. We obviously want to end that (streak), not that we’re focusing too much on that.”
Pankowski leads UW with 20 points in 10 games. Every single Badger besides the backup goalies have registered a point this season. Seven of them have at least ten.
It’s an uphill battle for first-year head coach Maura Crowell and her team. But the matchup gives Crowell another opportunity to see how her team stacks up against the best.
“I think it’s no different than playing the Gophers and playing the (Boston College) Eagles, we get a chance at another No. 1 team,” Crowell said.
Crowell and her team are getting pretty accustomed to facing top teams. She’s satisfied at how her team has handled the tough schedule so far.
“I think we do elevate to the opponent and that’s something we want to be better at too, just playing a consistent game regardless of the opponent,” Crowell said.
After being swept by the Gophers, the Bulldogs have had nearly three weeks without a game. It gave them a chance to focus on developing their own game in practice. It also gave sophomore Maria Lindh a chance to play for the Swedish national team in the Four Nations Cup.
“We’re excited to get back at it, but it’s been a really productive three weeks We’ve been able to get better and it was nice to have the rest. With Maria being at four nations, she didn’t miss any games, so the schedule worked out pretty well for us,” Crowell said.
In the time off, Crowell has made minor line changes.
“(Michela) Cava has been playing really well so she’s been moved up and is playing with (Lara) Stalder and (Katherine) Mcgovern,” Crowell said.
Cava joins UMD’s top line after scoring four goals in 10 games. She is third in scoring on the team, with six points.
Freshman goalie Maddie Rooney, who has started the last five games, will likely get the nod against Wisconsin. She has slightly better numbers than the Bulldogs’ other option, senior Kayla Black. But facing such a strong opponent, both goalies could log minutes this weekend.