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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Women’s hockey returns to ice

The UW women's hockey team begins its season with a high national ranking and a set of equally high expectations.  




In only their third season, the Badgers are ranked fourth in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine Preseason Poll and are primed to build on the success of last season, when they finished No. 7 in the country with a 21-9-5 overall record.  




Going beyond the rankings, the players recognize their talent and are extremely optimistic about the season. 




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'This is by far and out the best team we've had,' junior goalie Jackie MacMillan said. 'We have a lot of talented players.'  




Giving fans a taste of things to come, the Badgers opened their season by sweeping St. Cloud State on the road by scores of 5-1 and 4-2 Oct. 13-14. Junior forward Kendra Antony, who leads all Badger players with 100 career points, scored twice and notched three assists in the series, becoming this year's first Western Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Week.  




Along with Antony, junior defenseman and captain Sis Paulsen, MacMillan and junior defenseman and assistant captain Kerry Weiland lead a deep team that finished third in the conference a year ago. 




Most teams don't have the privilege of returning the leading scorer in the nation, but the Badgers do. Sophomore forward Meghan Hunter netted 42 goals and gave out 36 assists in her rookie campaign last year and will again team up with Antony, who didn't play that badly herself, scoring 50 points.  




The Badgers go very deep at the forward position, as sophomore Karen Rickard, junior Kelly Kegley and sophomore Steph Millar are all threats to score, and help to balance out one of the best offenses in the nation.  




Like the offense, the defense returns most of its strength and should rank among the best in the country. Paulsen and Weiland are back and anchor the defensive corps. Also giving help on the defensive end are junior Gretchen Anderson and sophomore Kathryn Greaves, who will undoubtedly help the team with their experience and gritty play.  




The defense did suffer a large loss when Nicole Uliansz, an integral member of the team last year, decided to train and tour with the National Team in the hopes of playing in the upcoming Winter Olympics.  




The Badgers wish her well, but believe that they have the right tools to replace her.  




'I would have thought it would affect us a lot, but with our two freshman defenders that we have right now [along with Paulsen and Weiland], we can deal with four,' Antony said. 




While major contributions from freshmen are usually just an added bonus for teams, the Badgers figure to phase their freshman into play right away, and did so against St. Cloud State. 




'We have eight new freshmen this year and they are looking really, really good,' Antony said. '[Our depth] showed this past weekend when we were running four lines, whereas last year we weren't running as many.' 




New defenders Molly Engstrom and Carla MacLeod, who, according to Antony, have played 'awesome' so far, will be looked on to make up for the loss of Uliansz and should be up to the task. 




On the offensive end, the Badgers bring in five new players'Amy Vermeulen, Jackie Friesen, Joselyn Cookson, Kathy Devereaux and Leah Federman, who all should contribute to the Badgers' offense.  




Head Coach Trina Bourget said she is excited about the team's chances and credits the positive outlook of the team to its newfound depth. 




'A third of our team is new, and we've added depth to every position,' Bourget said. 'We had a great team last year, but not as far as depth was concerned.' 




On a team that is very strong on paper with no visible weaknesses, Bourget says her primary concern for the team is complacency. 




'Every season has peaks and valleys, so when we do hit those valleys, [we need to] stay positive and know that we're going to get out of them.' 




While the Badger coaches and players tried to remain mum about the postseason, choosing to concentrate only on the present, the excitement around the rink exuded a clear 'Frozen Four or bust' attitude. 




'We want to go for the WCHA title and the Final Four,' MacMillan said, quickly adding, 'But right now we're just trying to go week by week.'

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