Wisconsin to face off vs. SCSU

first_imgUW goalie Jessie Vetter and the No.1 women\’s hockey team look to continue their winning streak this weekend.[/media-credit]The University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team, fresh off a convincing sweep over upstart North Dakota, heads to Saint Cloud, Minn., this weekend for a WCHA matchup with Saint Cloud State.In the season’s first women’s hockey PairWise rankings, released Tuesday, the Badgers were tabbed the top team in the nation.Despite the hype of the looming border battle with the Gophers — ranked No. 2 in the PairWise rankings — head coach Mark Johnson and the Badgers remain focused on retaining their No. 1 ranking this weekend against a feisty Saint Cloud team. Senior captain Erika Lawler, who is second in the nation with 25 assists, says the series at Saint Cloud is not being taken lightly.“[Saint Cloud State] will be pretty much the hard-working, grinding team they always are,” Lawler said. “Saint Cloud always gives us a hard time on their own rink, and I think one thing we need to do in order to respond to that is come out with a lot of energy in the first period.”The Huskies, who are 12-10-2 overall and 9-8-1 in WCHA play, enter the series against the Badgers in sole possession of fourth place in the WCHA, well behind juggernauts Wisconsin, Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth. Coach Jeff Gleson’s squad will host the Badgers on the heels of a three-game win streak that culminated in a pivotal sweep over Ohio State last weekend in Columbus.The Huskies are led by a balanced offensive attack, which is spearheaded by senior Felicia Nelson and juniors Caitlin Hogan and Holly Roberts. The Badgers will likely see these three together as the Huskies top line.Wisconsin goalie Jessie Vetter plans to keep an extra careful eye on these three when they are on the ice.“They definitely have some good players that I personally have played with like Holly Roberts and [Felicia] Nelson. I am going to be aware when they are on the ice, and especially when they are on the power play,” Vetter said this week following a team practice.To help neutralize the persistent Husky attack will be the underrated Wisconsin defensive core. Perhaps overshadowed by the great depth of the forwards and the superstardom of Vetter, the defensive core has been solid all year. Sophomore defenseman Olivia Jakiel (was recently named WCHA defensive player of the week after picking up a pair of assists last weekend against North Dakota. Vetter praised the consistency of her blue-liners and mentioned how important it is that they continue to do their job.“I think the main thing with the [defensemen] is consistency; we’re not looking for them to produce any goals or do much offensively,” Vetter said. “They just have to be consistent in our own zone and not give up too many odd man rushes. If they continue to do that throughout the rest of the season, we’ll do pretty well.”As the Badgers enter the home stretch of the season and prepare for the postseason play, Coach Mark Johnson and his staff will continue to tinker with the lines in attempt to find ideal combinations. The top line of Lawler, sophomore Hilary Knight and junior Angie Keseley is the only line that has remained together all year. With an abundance of offensive weapons at his disposal, Lawler said the team is confident Johnson can find the right combinations.“Ever since I’ve been here, Coach [Johnson] has been the one who has made line decisions, and he has done a really good job with it,” Lawler stated. “We do have a lot of depth on our team so whatever lines he decides to put together, we have to have confidence in Coach and the lines he put together.”last_img read more