The Wisconsin women's hockey team faces a key WCHA matchup this weekend as they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State. The Badgers come into the series tied with Bemidji State for third place in the conference with 23 points.
The Badgers are currently on a 2-4-0 skid and have dropped to No. 10 in this week's NCAA polls. With only eight games remaining and only the top eight teams in the country qualifying for the postseason NCAA Tournament, every week will take on added importance.
""We have to win every game from here on in,"" senior forward and captain Jasmine Giles said. ""We just have to be more consistent, we don't get to choose our own destiny.""
Sophomore forward Brooke Ammerman echoed those sentiments.
""We have to run the table. We have to be more disciplined and stay out of the penalty box,"" she said. ""We also have to be better in the offensive zone by crashing the net harder and getting the rebounds.""
Wisconsin is coming off a disappointing weekend, which saw them split a series at the Kohl Center with WCHA rival St. Cloud State. The team emphasized its play in the defensive zone as something that needs to be improved on from the St. Cloud series.
""We have to be stronger in front of our own net,"" interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser said. ""We got beat on rebounds and second and third chance opportunities by St. Cloud State.""
Freshman goaltender Becca Ruegsegger is also focused on the team's defensive effort.
""We have to take care of our own house,"" she said. ""We have to make sure that the defense is staying strong, goaltending included. I have to make sure I'm staying strong and closing the door.""
With the season drawing to a close, and the Badgers currently on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament, coming away with four points this weekend is now more important than ever.
""Four points this weekend is huge,"" DeKeyser said. ""Right now those four points mean the difference between third, fourth or fifth place in the WCHA. There are four teams fighting for third place right now, so four points is very important.""
Ammerman realizes the gravity of the situation as well.
""It's very important to come away with four points. We need to get the ball rolling,"" Ammerman said. ""From here on out we play Mankato, Bemidji State and Minnesota, so it is important that we get it going starting this weekend.""
The Buckeyes enter this series at fourth place in the WCHA and only three points behind the Badgers. Earlier this season, the two teams split a series at the Kohl Center. Ohio State is led into this weekend by freshman forward Hokey Langan, who currently leads WCHA scorers with 32 points.
DeKeyser outlined the keys to stopping a player like Langan.
""Whoever is marked on her has to be on her like glue,"" she said. ""Their head has to be on a swivel. She has unbelievable hands, a good shot and is very deceptive and shifty with the puck.
""We can't let our guard down in the defensive zone, and we have to be crashing the net and putting the puck in the net.""