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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 19, 2024
Saige Pacholok

Having played games on a  on a small sheet of ice this season, the Badgers are confident in their preparation for OSU.

Wisconsin looks to continue winning ways as they travel to Ohio State

The No.1 Wisconsin women’s hockey team (5-1-0 WCHA, 9-1-0 overall) will play an opponent ranked outside the top-10 for the first time in five weeks this weekend. The Badgers will travel to Columbus, Ohio to challenge the Buckeyes (5-2-1, 5-2-1).

The Badgers have not played a team ranked outside the top ten since their first series this season against Lindenwood. Despite watching his team put together a 7-1 record against four of the country’s top teams last month, head coach Mark Johnson is not complacent about this weekend’s series.

“We’re still making our way as far as trying to become the best team we’re capable of becoming,” Johnson said. “[This series] presents another challenge.”

Johnson and the Badgers have followed a simple formula: Work hard every day. It is quite generic and ho-hum, but it has provided Wisconsin with much success.

“We’ve gotten here through what we’ve done in previous years and previous days, and we just have to continue to build on that,” senior forward Hilary Knight said. “It’s sort of nerve-wracking at some times, but at the same time it’s nice to know that you’re doing the right thing and we continue to do that.”

If practice was any different this week, it was because of Wisconsin’s preparation for the rink at Ohio State.

The OSU Ice Rink has a smaller sheet of ice than the Kohl Center, which will result in a quicker style of hockey. The puck moves noticeably quicker from side to side, which means the boards will be much more active.

“Hopefully when they drop the puck Friday night, [the players] are ready for the pinball,” Johnson said.

The Badgers practiced drills this week that aim to take ice space away from the players and train them to make quicker decisions with the puck. In addition to this week’s drills, junior defenseman Saige Pacholok pointed to  apt experience from a previous series.

“We’ve played a series in Duluth, which has a similar type of rink,” Pacholok said. “Playing Duluth—a top-ranked team at a smaller rink—will give us an advantage playing Ohio State in their rink.”

In addition to practices tailored to the Buckeyes’ unique rink, the team will skate the ice in Columbus before the series opener. Still Johnson knows that in-game experience is the ultimate way his players will acclimate themselves.

“You try to duplicate [the smaller rink] in practice,” Johnson said. “Usually the game and the first couple shifts down there will get them to understand what we’re talking about.”

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Small rink or not, Wisconsin can expect Ohio State’s best efforts this weekend. That is something that comes with the No. 1 ranking and the title of defending national champions.

“It’s just like any other week,” Knight said. “We have to be ready to show them what Wisconsin’s all about and how we play our game.”

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