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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 19, 2024
Hilary Knight

Together, Wisconsin and UMD have won the past six national championships. The two will meet in Duluth this weekend.

Clash of titans in Duluth: Wisconsin takes on Bulldogs in first road series

The No. 1 Wisconsin women’s hockey team (3-1-0 WCHA, 5-1-0 overall) will play its first games outside the friendly confines of the Kohl Center this weekend when it travels to Minnesota Duluth to take on the No. 6 Bulldogs (0-0-0, 4-2-0).

To call it a hyped series would be an understatement, as the two teams have combined to claim the last six NCAA championships.

“We’ve had some pretty good competition the past six or seven years,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “Obviously, going up there is going to be a challenge.”

The Badgers are in the midst of a challenging stretch in their season. This weekend will be Wisconsin’s third-consecutive series against a top-ten opponent.

“Playing North Dakota and Minnesota, we’ve had good competition up to this point,” Johnson said. “It’ll be no different this weekend in both games.”

In fact, Wisconsin has played more top-ten opponents than any other top-ten team. Senior forward Brooke Ammerman would not have it any other way.

“We’re all very competitive,” Ammerman said. “I think we’d rather play in these games all year than have not quite that competition.”

Although the Badgers are used to the high level of competition, they have yet to face the difficulties of playing on the road this season.

“To start off with a road trip at Minnesota Duluth is kind of like jumping in the fire,” Ammerman said. “We just have to get the younger players excited and bring energy and keep the pressure off them.”

Minnesota Duluth has played just one top-ten opponent this season. The Bulldogs split a home series against then-No. 5 Boston College two weeks ago.

This weekend will be Minnesota Duluth’s first WCHA action of the season. It could not ask for a bigger stage than a home series against the defending national champions.

“These games are exciting,” Ammerman said. “Every time you play them, you can’t wait. When you get those wins or those defeats, they hurt more or they feel better.”

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Senior forward Haley Irwin is one of the Bulldogs’ key players.

“She’s big, she’s strong and she’s got a very good set of hands,” Johnson said of Irwin. “When she’s on the ice and she’s got the puck, you have to be conscious of making sure that you play her one-on-one.”

Sophomore goaltender Alex Rigsby is used to preparing for offensive threats.

“I just have to be aware of where they are on the ice at all times,” Rigsby said. “I just have to play my game.”

The Badgers appear to have the right mindset going into Minnesota Duluth. Johnson will simply look for his team to outwork the Bulldogs.

“We’ll see how we react,” Johnson said. “We’ve played pretty well at home and now we’re going to see how we do collectively on the road.”

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