Badgers host Minnesota in first round of NCAA Tournament

Abby Roque and the Badgers face Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. UW lost to the Gophers 3-1 last week in the WCHA Tournament championship.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Revenge is on the minds of Badger players and coaches this week after a disappointing loss against Minnesota last week in the WCHA finals. Wisconsin had beaten Minnesota in four straight games during the regular season this year, and it had won the last three WCHA tournaments before last week’s 3-1 loss ended the Badgers magical run in conference tournament play.

“A lot of people are pretty mad that we lost, and I think that a lot of people are looking for revenge,” sophomore Abby Roque said. “Today’s practice had a lot of energy, and I think we’re ready to go out and beat [Minnesota] a fifth time this year.”

Wisconsin (20-2-2 WCHA, 29-3-2 overall) earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, while Minnesota (13-8-3 WCHA, 24-10-3) wound up at No. 5.

Saturday’s game will be played at LaBahn Arena in Madison, which provides a huge advantage for the Badgers. Wisconsin went undefeated at home this season, posting a perfect 16-0-0 record.

“We know this is our rink and the energy [the fans] will bring to it,” Roque said. “We haven’t lost here yet, so were going to go out and try to keep that streak alive.”

Although playing at home provides a boost for UW, Minnesota holds the firm advantage in postseason play over the Badgers. In 2014, ‘15 and ‘16 respectively, Minnesota eliminated Wisconsin in the Frozen Four.

And now Minnesota can add success in the WCHA Tournament to its pedigree against UW. The Gophers will try to play spoiler to the Badgers for the second straight game, and Wisconsin will have to work out a few kinks from last week’s matchup. Specifically, redshirt sophomore goaltender Kristen Campbell emphasized the importance having a crisper defense performance, stating, “we don’t have to change things too much, but we need to tighten things up defensively, make sure were picking up sticks and getting in the lane.”

With a shot at the Frozen Four on the line, Wisconsin hopes to put an end to Minnesota’s season Saturday.

“To beat a team four times in a season is obviously hard to do,” Roque said. “But to beat [Minnesota] five times in a season, to go to the Frozen Four, will really be a special feat.”

Puck drop scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.

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