After the Wisconsin women's hockey team's 4-3 loss to St. Cloud State Saturday, reality set in for sophomore forward Brooke Ammerman. Coming into the series the Badgers sat at No. 7 in the national rankings, placing them on the bubble for a berth in the eight-team NCAA tournament.
But with another split series against a supposedly inferior opponent, Wisconsin could drop further in the rankings, and the team that romped to an NCAA title one year ago could miss the tournament entirely this season.
""We should be peaking right now,"" Ammerman said. ""Now we just really have to run the table and just get ourselves in the top eight ... we really have to bear down.""
Yet the bounces the Badgers did not get against the Huskies Saturday went their way Friday as Wisconsin benefitted from a hat trick by sophomore forward Carolyne Prevost in a 5-3 win over St. Cloud State. For an offense that has struggled—the Badgers had scored five or more goals against an opponent just four times prior to Friday's series opener—Prevost said it was important for them to have a strong performance.
""It's a relief, one, to get five goals in a game, it hasn't happened for us in a little while,"" she said.
Prevost and Wisconsin seemed to have a response whenever St. Cloud threatened. The Badgers took a 2-0 lead in the first period, but the Huskies refused to go away, cutting the Wisconsin lead to one on three occasions. Whenever they threatened, however, the Badgers did not let the game get away from them—each time St. Cloud cut the lead to one, Prevost scored to give Wisconsin some insurance.
""Everyone really had their mind set on fighting the whole game and I think we accomplished that,"" said junior forward/defenseman Geena Prough, who also scored.
Although she was pleased with the win, head coach Tracey DeKeyser said the penalties the Badgers took, especially against a Husky team that is strong on the power play, were unnecessary and frustrating.
""We have to be more disciplined, stay out of the box, we have to be better on the penalty kill, we have to fight,"" Ammerman said. ""We let so many pucks in today because we just weren't fighting, we have to be better.""
The Badgers did a good job pressuring the Husky goal, especially in the game's dying minutes, but could not convert, and despite a number of good chances, lost the series finale.
""That's frustrating,"" DeKeyser said. ""Especially when you're outshooting your opponent, you're winning great faceoffs, you're getting scoring chances [but] come up short.""