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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, December 07, 2021
Hilary Knight

Senior forward Hilary Knight’s experience, playing in her third Frozen Four, will be an assest for the Badgers this weekend.

Women's Hockey: Boston College awaits Badgers in Frozen Four

Around this time one year ago, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team found itself getting ready for a NCAA semifinal matchup against Boston College at the Frozen Four, where both teams knew that after stellar seasons they were just two wins away from a national championship.

If that sounds a lot like what the Badgers are getting ready for this weekend —and it should, with Wisconsin set to square off with the Eagles at the 2012 Frozen Four in Duluth, Minn., Friday afternoon—you would not know it from the way the team talked about its impending rematch with Boston College.

A little less than a year after the Badgers defeated the Eagles and went on to win the program’s fifth national title, Wisconsin started preparing this week with a blank slate.

“If anything, we just have to remember that we’re a new team and it’s a different year,” senior forward Hilary Knight said. “Everything that we accomplished against Boston College last year is sort of irrelevant going into this week.”

One aspect of last year’s game the Badgers know to be ready for, though, is their opponent’s motivation. After all, it can be hard to end a team’s season one year and not find a motivated group the next time you see them.

“They’re going to have kids that played against us last year, and they don’t want what happened last year to happen to them again,” head coach Mark Johnson said.

There are certainly plenty of differences between 2011’s game and Friday’s rematch. Wisconsin will be without its Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award-winning forward and team captain, Meghan Duggan, and Boston College will no longer boast Patty Kaz finalist Kelli Stack, who left with other members of their teams’ senior classes.

Another key difference will be in the game’s location, something that could give an edge to Wisconsin.

Last year, the teams met in Erie, Pa., at a rink they must have been unfamiliar with going into the Frozen Four weekend. This time around, they will meet at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s AMSOIL Arena, where Boston College played in October, but where Wisconsin has skated consistently since it opened in 2010—including just two weeks ago at the WCHA Final Face-Off.

Although the Badgers struggled in their most recent game at AMSOIL Arena, they still boast a familiarity with the rink that Boston College cannot match.

“We’ve been up there a couple of times this year, and a lot of us played there last year, and that’s to our advantage,” said junior forward Brianna Decker, Wisconsin’s finalist for the Patty Kazmaier this year. “We’re used to the rink, we know what to expect.”

But as his team gets ready for another win-or-go-home game, Johnson said he wants to make sure Wisconsin has the emotional energy necessary in a high-stakes contest against a motivated opponent.

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A nagging question for the Badgers this season has been if they can play at a postseason pace, since they entered the NCAA tournament having lost two of their previous four games. But after grinding out a win against Mercyhurst in the national quarterfinals last weekend, Wisconsin seems to have put some of those concerns to rest.

Still, Johnson knows the Badgers need to be ready for what is coming when the puck drops at 5 p.m. Friday afternoon, and they have to earn a spot in the national title game.

“We talk about a lot of little things, but the most important thing is playing relaxed, playing confident and playing to win,” Johnson said. “If you can do those three things, you know you’re going to leave everything out on the ice and things are going to happen.”

“The first seven or eight minutes of the game should be quite entertaining,” he added. “Both teams will be flying high —you hope that you’re ready to go, and you need to be ready to go.”

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