They might play on ice, but the No. 6 Wisconsin women's hockey team is sizzling after a win and tie against Minnesota-Duluth with a chance to move into second place in the WCHA if they defeat Minnesota State this weekend.
According to head coach Tracey DeKeyser, however, this will be no easy task, considering that Minnesota State split a series with Minnesota-Duluth recently.
""Minnesota State is going to be similar to many teams in our league,"" DeKeyser said. ""They're going to battle and not give up. It's a small rink up there so we expect a lot of things to happen very quickly and that's how we're trying to prepare our team this week.""
With a faster pace of play and a smaller area to work the puck in the Mavericks, who enter the game 2-6-4 in the WCHA and 4-6-4 overall. Minnesota State has had time to adjust to this style of play and may have a slight advantage coming in to this weekend's matchup.
Despite the Mavericks' rink advantage, the Badgers (7-4-1, 10-5-3 overall) have one objective in mind.
""We have a little bit more incentive to win both games this weekend to get second in the league,"" senior forward Jasmine Giles said. ""That's our goal.""
With a new head coach and new players, the Badgers began the season spending much of their efforts adjusting to the new situation. After a bit of a rocky start, the Badgers continue to improve their form and look to be a force on the ice.
""It's just the combination of nine new players, the coaches trying to get their feet wet a bit and us getting our feet wet,"" sophomore forward Brooke Ammerman said. ""I think ever since the Minnesota series we've been pretty strong, we've been rushing our opponents and once we start burying the puck we should be good to go the next year.""
Both teams share the same shooting percentage at .078 on the season going into tonight's game, so it seems that the team with more shooting opportunities may have the key to the win. The Mavericks do have a better point percentage during power play beating the Badgers .122 to .052 on the season, however the Badgers may be heating up in that category having managed two goals in their last contest.
The top scorers for the Mavericks consist of leading scorer Emmi Leinonen with seven goals on the season thus far, followed by Ashley Young (5), who leads the team with eight assists.
There is hope that Ammerman, Wisconsin's leading scorer who has racked up 12 points coming into this game, will continue to contribute, but DeKeyser expects everyone to contribute to point production due to the threats within the blue line as well as up on the frontline.
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.