The absence of Pankowski and Clark has yet to be felt by the Badgers

Annie Pankowski decided to redshirt her senior year, and she will represent the United States in the Olympics.

Image By: Kaitlyn Veto

After another brilliant 2016-‘17 campaign for the Wisconsin Women’s hockey team, Emily Clark and Annie Pankowski were tasked with a difficult conundrum — stay at Wisconsin in 2017-‘18 or represent their national teams in the olympics. Ultimately, they decided to redshirt their senior years, and they will instead represent their olympic teams. Clark will play for team Canada in February, and Pankowski for the United States.

Accordingly, the question that the majority of fans and pundits had before the season was, simply, who is going to step up and produce to makeup for the lost production of the two olympians? Annie Pankowski led the Badgers in points last season with with 55, including 25 goals and 30 assists. Emily Clark’s contributions were significant as well, as she contributed an impressive 46 points (20 goals and 26 assists), which was third for UW last season.

Pankowski and Clark are undoubtedly brilliant players, but, still, Wisconsin hasn’t really felt their absence thus far. Sophomore forwards Abby Roque, Presley Norby and Alexis Mauermann, along with second year defenseman Mekenzie Steffen, have all stepped up and led the charge in the opening three games for UW. Specifically, the sophomore class has scored five of the team's eleven goals this season. Roque leads all of women’s Division I hockey with six points, while Norby leads all of women’s Division I hockey with two goals.

The biggest surprise contribution so far this season has come from freshman forward Caitlin Schneider, who scored her first career goal after being thrust into the second line due to an injury to senior forward Baylee Wellhausen in the first period against Mercyhurst.

As always for the Wisconsin women’s hockey team, a successful season stems from upperclassmen leadership. This year is no different, despite missing their two most important seniors. Specifically, redshirt senior forward Claudia Kepler, junior forwards Sophia Shaver and Sam Cogan, along with junior defenseman Mikaela Gardner and senior defenseman Lauren Williams continue to make an impact like they have done throughout their established careers.

Through veteran leadership and a budding sophomore class, Wisconsin looks primed to continue its dominance, despite having to play this season without its two olympic stars.

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