Preview: Badgers head south to face Harvard and Boston College in Nashville

Sophomore forward Sophie Shirley is a pivotal part of UW's attack, which has scored five or more goals in three of Wisconsin's four wins this season. 

Sophomore forward Sophie Shirley is a pivotal part of UW's attack, which has scored five or more goals in three of Wisconsin's four wins this season. 

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team (14-1-1 overall, 8-1-1 WCHA) head south this weekend to take on the Harvard Crimson (5-2 overall, 5-0 ECAC Hockey) and the eighth-ranked Boston College Golden Eagles (11-3-1 overall, 10-3-1 WHEA) at the Ford Ice Center in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Wisconsin comes in on a four-game win streak against conference opponents Minnesota State and St. Cloud State. The Badgers’ offensive prowess was clear in these games; in three of the four wins, they scored five or more goals. 

The Crimson, on the other hand, head down to Nashville on a two-game skid, including a 6-2 loss to cross-city rival Boston University and a loss to a New Hampshire team that has a losing in-conference record. Despite this, Harvard still boasts a convincing victory against seventh-ranked Princeton and even cracks the top ten in the USA Today women’s hockey poll.

Harvard is led by sophomore forward Anne Bloomer and junior forward Becca Gilmore, each of whom have ten total points in seven total games. Bloomer has only started to flourish; she scored five points in 32 games last year. Gilmore is already an established talent with 56 career points in her freshman and sophomore years. 

Senior defender Ali Peper is the Crimson’s defensive leader; she has a +10 plus/minus rating on the ice, which is easily the best on her team. In goal, Harvard has ridden with sophomore Lindsay Reed, who owns a subpar .893 save percentage. She ranks 12th out of 14 eligible goalkeepers in her conference.

Boston College, on the miraculously-appearing third hand, beat Boston University, but are only 1-2 in their last three games. One of those losses was to No. 4 Northeastern. 

The Golden Eagles have eight skaters with double-digit points on the season; Wisconsin boasts nine by comparison, with three players above the 30-point threshold, which nobody on Boston College possesses. 

Among the top scorers is freshman forward Hannah Bilka; the Texas native has a team-leading 21 points on the season so far. Freshman forward Kelly Browne makes up the second half of the young dynamic duo; Browne is the only other player on the Golden Eagles’ roster with 20+ points.

Boston College has a pair of serviceable goaltenders that they have interchanged throughout the season. Sophomore Maddy McArthur has been the regular starter for the Golden Eagles in goal and boasts a 1.91 goals allowed/average. Fellow sophomore Kelly Pickreign has seen the ice in only three games, but boasts an impressive .948 save percentage in her time on ice.

While the Badgers will get a break from the grind of the WCHA, it likely won’t be much of a reprieve in regards to physical play and tight games. Wisconsin will have their first crack at a top ten opponent since their 0-1-1 result across the border against Minnesota four weeks ago.

Since then, they have returned to their winning ways by riding the tidal wave of points scored by senior forward Abby Roque, junior forward Daryl Watts, and sophomore forward Sophie Shirley. As usual, an offensive barrage will be the key to securing a pair of victories in Nashville.

Puck drop for Friday’s game against Harvard is at 4:30 p.m. CST and puck drop for Saturday’s game against Boston College is at 1 p.m. CST.

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