Women’s hockey: No. 2 Wisconsin opens NCAA Tournament against Mercyhurst

first_imgThe No. 2 ranked University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team will fight for the chance to go to the NCAA Frozen Four tournament this weekend — but their opponents are a team they have not met since 2012.The Badgers (34-3-1, 24-3-1 WCHA) will take on Mercyhurst University (19-10-5, 14-3-3 CHA) Saturday at LaBahn, in the Badgers 12th sold out home contest of the season.The Badgers have met Mercyhurst a total of three times in their NCAA playoff history, and have skated away with a victory every single time.Last time outThe Badgers are coming off of a weekend full of highs, one of which happened to be defeating their rival, Minnesota, on the road. The Badgers are feeling great about their chances the rest of the season after winning the WCHA tournament title by shutting out the Gophers.Wisconsin also secured the second overall seed of the NCAA tournament after their win, one spot behind Boston College, which currently boasts an undefeated season. The Badgers are sitting in a great spot to advance to their third straight Frozen Four.Wisconsin keys to successGet familiar with Mercyhurst.While the Badgers might be able to watch film on the team, the only way to really understand an opponent is to meet them on the ice.With that in mind, the Badgers need to take it slow during the first period of the game and get used to Mercyhurst’s style. In this case, playing slow and steady will be the key to helping the Badgers win the race.Trust in Ann-RenéeWhile it might be difficult for the forwards and defenders to face new opponents, one thing hasn’t changed in this game —  junior goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens still needs to keep pucks out of the net. While the rest of her team is getting their feet wet, they should trust Desbiens will be in the net, ready to block anything that comes her way.Desbiens has proved that she is capable of stopping points from going on the board, earning her 20th shutout of the season last weekend against Minnesota.Don’t give Mercyhurst a Power PlayIf the Badgers are serious about winning this weekend, they need to make sure they keep their noses clean and don’t find themselves in the sin bin. The Badgers got lucky last weekend when Minnesota did not score on any of their four power plays throughout the game. Mercyhurst has scored 24 of their 92 goals this season on the power play, and all of their top scorers have multiple power play goals this season. If the Badgers want to win, they need to make sure to keep all six players on the ice at all times.last_img

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