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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Press Conferences: Wisconsin looks to bounce back from conference losses


The Wisconsin football team (4-3 Big Ten, 7-4 overall) will wrap up the regular season Saturday at Penn State (5-2, 7-4). The Badgers are still reeling from their tough loss against the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes this past weekend, which head coach Bret Bielema admitted has left everyone on the team with a bitter taste in their mouth.

“Our guys strained, fought, tried as much as they could do,” Bielema said. “Obviously we came up short, so it’s a tough one to swallow.”

Bielema knows what losing a game like this means. It is more than just another notch in the loss column or hurt feelings about falling to a rival. It is about the strain that players face moving forward into the next game.

“Mental fatigue as well as physical fatigue is real. So as a head coach I’ve gotta be smart about what I’m asking guys to do this week.”

The players had the day off Monday and will begin preparing for their matchup against Penn State Tuesday. Although the Badgers have secured a spot in the Big Ten Championship game (Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible due to bowl bans), Bielema is not limiting his players in any way, saying that if a player is healthy, there is no holding him back.

As for injured players, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Rob Havenstein underwent an MRI this week, confirming what doctors suspected is a mild MCL sprain. Bielema hopes to have Havenstein back mid-week to join in team practices, as well as redshirt junior linebacker Chris Borland, who didn’t play against the Buckeyes because of a hamstring injury.

The Badgers have their work cut out for them against Penn State, a team that has found a strong offensive footing and has fought hard despite all the circumstances that plagued its program in the last year. But Bielema said his players won’t stop without giving it their all.

“Our guys have had a lot invested in every game this year,” he said. “They’re very resilient. It’s a group I know will bounce back.”

Men’s Hockey

The Wisconsin men’s hockey team (1-3-2 WCHA, 1-5-2 overall) was once again unable to secure two points this past weekend after it was held to a tie and a loss against No. 3 Minnesota (4-2-2, 7-2-2). At Monday’s press conference, head coach Mike Eaves fielded questions about the most obvious hindrance in his team’s game right now: offensive production.

“Part of that is missing the people we are in terms of production,” Eaves said. “I think you take junior forward [Mark] Zengerle out of there and [freshman forward] Nic Kerdiles, and what we’ve done is we have different chemistry up front.”

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Eaves admitted that upon watching the video replay of this weekend’s series, the lack of connecting passes and a steady offensive system was obvious, something he plans to address in this week’s practices.

“We’re going to go back,” Eaves said. “We’re going to work on our skill. We’re going to go over our system details, and we’re quite frankly going to skate a little bit to make sure that we’re covering all our bases so that we’re not leaving anything to doubt.”

Eaves is also hoping a little line shuffling will jump-start the offense, moving junior forward Tyler Barnes and sophomore forward Brendan Woods up a line.

Hopefully for Wisconsin, the change gives the Badgers the spark they need to start finding the back of the net, as the Minnesota State Mavericks (1-5-0, 3-5-2) come to Madison for a post-Thanksgiving matchup starting Friday night at 7 p.m.

Women’s Hockey

After winning six consecutive games, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team (4-4-2 WCHA, 8-4-2 overall) was handed a 3-1 loss against Ohio State (8-4, 10-4) Saturday following a 4-2 victory Friday. The Badgers will be back at LaBahn arena following the Thanksgiving holiday to take on the St. Cloud State Huskies (2-8-0, 4-9-1) in a weekend afternoon series beginning Friday.

Head coach Mark Johnson spoke with the media Monday about his team’s performance against Ohio State.

“We scored a couple of shorthanded goals, scored on a penalty shot and ended up doing a real nice job in special teams to win the game,” Johnson said when discussing Friday night’s game. Saturday night, however, was a different scenario.

“We weren’t able to capitalize on our opportunities. When we have a setback, it usually is we’re not able to get the puck on a regular basis,” Johnson said.

With the slight setback behind them, the Badgers will look to hop back on the winning train this weekend, something Johnson knows his team can do.

“I’m proud of the way the team has competed,” he said. “They’re a group that practices hard, and for the most part, have given themselves a chance to win every game.”

Wisconsin will be without junior forward Brittany Ammerman, who is unable to practice or compete due to injury. The first game against St. Cloud State begins 2 p.m. Friday.

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