first_imgThe Wisconsin women’s hockey team didn’t have much time to dwell on their 32-game unbeaten streak ending last Sunday with an upcoming series at Minnesota-Duluth this weekend.It’s the first road series for the team this season after beginning the year with three straight weekends at the Kohl Center.UMD (4-2) is ranked No. 5 in the coaches poll and No. 6 in the USCHO poll. The Bulldogs are led by head coach Shannon Miller, who holds a 317-89-34 record in her 13 seasons with the program.Although the Bulldogs lead the all-time series 26-22-10, Wisconsin has swept UMD in their past three meetings. And the last time the WCHA conference foes faced off, UW ended the Bulldogs season in a 2-1 victory in the 2011 quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.In order to stop Duluth’s offense the Badgers will need to keep a close eye on forwards Haley Irwin and Pernilla Winberg, who have had success against Wisconsin in the past. Irwin has 14 points in 16 games against UW, and Pernilla has nine points in nine games. But the Badgers have a very capable defense to shut down UMD’s top performers. Wisconsin has only allowed more than two goals once this season and has one of the nation’s best goalies in Alex Rigsby.Rigsby received the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week award last weekend with 52 saves in the Minnesota series. On the season, Rigsby has 118 saves to go along with a very impressive .929 save percentage. Rigsby is one of the best goalies in the nation, but UMD returns their talented goalie in Jennifer Harss as well. Harss, a senior from Germany, fits Duluth’s trend of having a wide array of foreign female hockey players from around the world. She’s also not far behind Rigsby with a .904 season save percentage. On the other side of the puck, Wisconsin is also very capable of putting up points. Junior forward Brianna Decker is on a 16-game point streak dating back to February 11. In those 16 games, Decker has scored 18 goals and contributed 24 assists. Senior Brooke Ammerman has also proved to be a reliable offensive threat, tying Decker with seven goals thus far in the season. The all-time leading goal scorer for the women’s program, senior Hilary Knight, has also started off well, but Wisconsin has done a nice job distributing the puck. It would be easy for the Badgers to be a one-dimensional offense with Knight, but they’ve showed a balanced attack. Four players have recorded five goals or more, and 13 players have already scored this season.The Badgers also have three different players who’ve recorded hat tricks this season. Knight, Decker and Carolyne Pr?vost have already tallied hat tricks just six games into the season.Both teams have strengths on either side of the puck, but getting off to a quick start will be key for Wisconsin. In the North Dakota series two weeks ago, they were able to overcome slow starts to take the series. In the Minnesota series, they started off hot with two quick goals in game one, but found themselves playing from behind in game two. It will be more important for the Badgers to take an early lead, since they’re playing on the road, and it’s always tougher to gain momentum in a road setting with opposing fans. Wisconsin has another disadvantage in coming off a short week. The team has a quick turnaround, after playing Minnesota on Sunday and leaving for Duluth on Thursday afternoon for its Friday game.That said, head coach Mark Johnson always has the UW program at the top of its game and ready to take on tough opponents like UMD.last_img

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