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Packer's Perspective: Heading Into the New Year

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Hey Badger Fans-

The time is here! We have returned back to campus and hit the ice once again, continuing on our journey to the finish line. Break was not nearly long enough, and flew by, but everyone is in agreement that it was nice to get away and spend time with loved ones over the holidays. Most of the team left campus back sometime between the 17th and the 20th of December and then we all returned by the 27th of December in order to take part in practice later that day. The break was good, and a little time away from the rink is always healthy. 

The team has returned to campus and been grinding each day, from lift, to cardio, to on ice sessions themselves, everyone is pushing hard and focused on continuing to pursue our team goal. While hockey is what brings the fans and the followers, the players are ordinary individuals just like the rest. We hang out with family members, spend time with friends, and yes, some of us still write letters to Santa (Sydney McKibbon). Upon returning to campus, I asked my teammates to list their favorite gift or moment of this Christmas season (Hanukah for senior goaltender Ilana Friedman), and here is what we came up with. Also; I have included some of the nicknames we go by, to better know the ladies! Enjoy!

#1 Jorie Walters- A ninja blender
#2 Melissa Channel (Chan)- A Garth Brooks CD set and some lulu lemon clothes
#3 Jenny Ryan- Fondue with my family for Christmas dinner...yummm!
#5 Stef McKeough- Ketchup chips, and also making the kiss cam at the Sens hockey game with my brother.
#6 Courtney Burke (@courty6)- A North Face jacket
#7 Kelly Jaminski (Jammer)- A new pair of comfy slippers
#8 Katy Harding (Stone)- Taking a trip to Hawaii with my family
#9 Molly Doner- Finally having all five of my siblings and I home together
#10 Brittany Ammerman (Brit)- Surprising my mom with the Linus bike she has always wanted
#11 Sydney McKibbon (Syd)- Skating outdoors at Lake Louise 
#12 Katy Josephs (Kath)- Skating on the outdoor rink with my brothers
#13 Katarina Zgraja (Z)- A delicious home cooked turkey dinner
#14 Madison Packer (Pack)- Bowling with my family in Aspen and skating with a group of four and five year olds at the local rink
#16 Sarah Nurse- Being with all my family
#17 Blayre Turnbull- A new pair of fuzzy socks
#20 Mikayla Johnson (MJ)- A basket to hold all my blankets
#23 Kim Drake- Decorating the Christmas tree
#24 Karley Sylvester (Carlos)- A new Sonic Care toothbrush and taking a trip to New York to visit my boyfriend...he's in the NHL, Brock Nelson, look him up.
#25 Erika Sowchuk (Sowwww)- A new pair of beats
#27 Rachel Jones (Jonesie)- A shiny new front tooth
#28 Natalie Berg (Bergie)- My Barbie jeep, it does great on the snowy Wisco roads
#30 Ann-Renee Desbiens- Having all my siblings and nephews home
#31 Ilana Friedman (Ils)- Spending time with my boyfriend on the football team
#33 Alex Rigsby (Rigs)- Magic bullet blender...I like my smoothies (she really does!!)

There you have it! All the favorite gifts and moments from the Badgers holiday season, but now it's back to work. We have six practices under our belt and we are gearing up to head to St. Cloud to start the second leg of the season. The second half of the year is a fresh start and a new chapter for us, as we look to make strides to continue getting better and focusing on reaching our ultimate goal. Tune in later this week for a full recap on practices and the trip to St. Cloud, and thoughts from players on what they look forward to moving into the first game of 2014. From the entire Badger team we wish you a safe and happy New Year and look forward to playing in front of our home crowd in 2014! 

Until next time, thanks for reading, and On Wisconsin!

-Madison Packer

Packer's Perspective: Friedman's holiday break recap

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I hope everyone had a great holiday and is looking forward to the New Year! Another treat for the holiday is another guest blogger, senior goaltender, Ilana Friedman!


Greetings Badger Fans!
This is Ilana Friedman, one of the goalies on the women's hockey team.  I'm writing from a distant location in relation to Madison...well actually not really.  As a Middleton, Wisconsin, native, my holiday travel plans are not as exciting as a lot of other members of the team this year.  A quick ten-minute drive west on University Avenue gets me home!  Downtown is usually very quiet during the various breaks, and this break has been no different thus far, especially with the recent snowfall that's forced many to stay inside!

Break has been very relaxing thus far.  My plan usually revolves around sleeping in, trekking over to the rink and working out, sitting in our amazing hot tub or sauna, and then relaxing the rest of the day.  Over break the team likes to pick up new TV shows as we have a bit more free time than during the semester, so I'm currently catching up on Scandal (a team favorite) and just started a new biography about the Kennedy's (one of my favorite topics as a history major). 

Winter break also includes another not so fun activity: law school and internship applications.  I took the LSAT in October and am now applying to various schools and internship positions.  Although they're not too difficult to complete, they are time consuming.  I'm mainly looking at schools out east either in Boston, New York, or Washington D.C. but as our recent trip to Vail forced me to fall in love with the state, I might apply some places in Colorado too.

My holiday plans were probably a little different than many of the members on the team, as my family and I do not celebrate Christmas. I was raised Jewish, so our holiday traditions have a different little spin.  Christmas Eve was spent with my family playing various different board games like Settlers of Catan and Tripoli.  The fun continued on Christmas day, which included a movie at one of the local Madison movie theaters and Chinese food for dinner (that's why I have to continue working out over break!).  In years past we usually saw one of the Lord of the Ring's movies, and this year was no different with The Hobbit!  The rest of the day was spent with the famed pets in the Friedman household: the puggles (pug-beagle mixes).  They're names are Jem and Scout and they are divas just as their big sister is!

Although Christmas is not a holiday that I personally celebrate, I do love this time of year and I would like to extend my holiday greetings to all of our supporters!  Thanks for being the best fans in the country and enjoy the rest of the holiday season!  

Seasons greetings and On Wisconsin!
- Ilana Friedman

Packer's Perspective: Rigsby takes the reins

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Hey followers! The blog has a special treat today, a guest blogger from the Badgers! As the team is spread out across North America celebrating the holiday with their families I have asked senior goaltender Alex Rigsby to share what she is up to this holiday season, so without further introduction, Alex Rigsby!


Greetings Badger Fans!
The busy semester has ended and a much deserved break is in place for the team.  I finished up the semester with two exams this past Friday and returned home right after.  My break thus far has been busy for me, but a good busy. Since my finals, I have been running around doing some last minute Christmas shopping, catching up with friends from home including former teammate, Brianna Decker, and training.
My dad was out of town this past weekend watching my younger brother, Chase, play hockey in Connecticut and they got back yesterday. My older brother, Zach, is currently recovering from shoulder surgery with my mom as his nurse. It is great to have our whole family together for the first time since August!
Last night an extra special event occurred. Growing up, I played for the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals and played with the boys under a very inspiring coach, Ulvis Katlaps. Ulvis was a former Badger hockey player from Latvia who passed away suddenly from cancer this past August. Last night, the organization put on the fourth annual alumni hockey game, but this year they named it the UK2 Alumni Game. Although I did not participate in the game this year, it was a great time seeing my old teammates and how much they have grown as hockey players and young men over the past few years. We were a very close group and picked up right where we left off!
After the game, a dinner was held at the rink for the parents and players to mingle and catch up. The great thing about the hockey community is how tight knit and supportive it is, just like the Badger community. It was fun to hear the different stories told about Ulvis from over the years. He is greatly missed, but will always be remembered.  
Now, my family and I are at my grandparent's lake house.They live in a small town in Illinois and have their own private lake. They recently built a house on it, but before that, we camped in the summer and never came out here for the holidays. I love spending the holiday here and it is one of my favorite places to be. It is truly a winter wonderland!  
Tonight we will have our traditional seafood dinner and attend church after. Also as a tradition, my two brothers and I get to open one gift the night before, so I am anxious for that!
Nothing compares to spending the holidays with the family. I am looking forward to Christmas and enjoying a few extra days off before returning back to school on the 27th.  Thanks for reading and I want to wish you all a safe and Happy Holidays!!!
~Alex Rigsby

Packer's Perspective: Time for a Break

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The weekend was an overall success for the Badger squad, as we swept the Bemidji State Beavers, and finished the 2013 year on a solid note. Now, a much needed and anticipated break is in the wave for the team. We will prepare for finals coming up next week, and then head home for some down time with our families. The team is happy with where we sit heading into the second half of the year, and looking forward to getting some down time to reenergize and come back from break ready to go right back to work. Most of us will head home for the holiday, and return a few days after Christmas to begin preparing for the first series back against St. Cloud.

This is a short post, as it is mainly just to keep followers up to speed on what is to be expected. Stay tuned for another post later this week that may reveal some different twists in the blog format, and may give a sneak peak of some other voices that may appear on the blog over Christmas break.

Thanks for all the support you have provided our team up until this point, we look forward to a second half of the year that is just as action packed and successful as the first! Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

- Madison 

Packer's Perspective: Gameday against Bemidji State

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The time is here again, it's game day for the Badgers. This post is unusual in timing as we typically do not have a day off in between, but I just wanted to keep followers up to speed as a great deal happened in the short break. The game Friday was a big win for the ladies, and we were happy with our efforts, happy but not content. After the game we went right back to work, enjoying a long afternoon and then returning to the rink Saturday morning to learn from the night before.

We watched film Saturday, then practiced and reviewed a few systems. We also worked a bit with our lines to get the flow going for the game Sunday afternoon. After practice, the team exchanged gifts for our secret snowman. It was a fun holiday tradition, and the gifts were awesome all around. From store bought goodies, to homemade gag gifts, the team had a few laughs and enjoyed opening gifts from one another with Christmas music playing in the background.

After the gift exchange, a number of us returned home before heading out again for a night packed with activity. Several girls went out to cheer on the volleyball team, who won their match Saturday night and are headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2006. Also, Alex Rigsby, Sydney McKibbon, Kelly Jaminski, Jenny Ryan, Katy Josephs, and myself all volunteered at the men's game, raising money and collecting toys for the Toys for Tots drive. Our efforts collected 92 toys and about $3,350, all to be donated to the Toys for Tots foundation to help children around the United States have a better Christmas this winter. The night was fun, but didn't last too long, as we all wanted to be sure we were home and in bed in time to get a good nights rest. I am always amazed with my teammates and all they do outside of the arena to give back to the community, and Saturday night was a great example of the girls giving back to a community that gives so much to us year round.

The team is amped up and looking forward to finishing on a high note what has been a great weekend for Badger athletics. The team returns to the ice Sunday at 2 p.m. to face off against Bemidji for one final time in 2013. We hope to see as many fans out as possible as we look to maintain our second place seed, and head into the new year rested and ready to continue on our journey. 

Until next time, thanks for reading! On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: Home Sweet Home

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This week has been business as usual for the Badgers. Practices, lifts, and video sessions have helped us to prepare as we gear up for one final weekend of games against Bemidji State. The team is ready to go and looking forward to finishing off the first half of the season in front of our home crowd.

When asked about the upcoming weekend, how it feels to be home, and what the future holds, junior forward Karley Sylvester was happy to be back.

"It's great to be back home," Sylvester said. "It will be fun to play in front of our home crowd. They bring a lot of energy that we don't get on the road. It will be great to play in our own rink and also sleep in our own beds. After this week the upcoming break will be nice. We have had a great start and it will be important we all come back from break re-energized and excited to finish strong."

Sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke had similar emotions, but was also a little star struck. When asked to comment she first said, "OMG! Paparazzi!" After taking a few moments to gather herself, Court expressed her excitement about playing at home.

"It will be exciting to finally play at home again since we have been on the road for the past three weeks," Burke said. "We get to play the last two games hopefully coming up with some points for our league and head into the break in great shape. It will make finishing up finals and spending the holiday with our families much more enjoyable." 

Being at home is a huge advantage as we get the perks of having our own fans, and also sleeping at home in our own beds. This weekend is different with the day off Saturday in between Friday and Sunday games, but that is to our advantage as we will be able to utilize our home facilities and resources to ensure we are fully recovered and ready to go Sunday for game two.

Three members of the women's team, senior captains Kelly Jaminski, Alex Rigsby, and myself will be heading the Toys for Tots drive at the men's hockey game on Saturday night at 7 p.m. We will be collecting toys and donations to help military families this holiday season. I encourage all those who can to get out and make a contribution to this great cause Saturday night, and help cheer the men on in their Big Ten home opener. 

The puck drops Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. for the Badger women's team, and we look forward to seeing you all out as we finish off 2013 in LaBahn Arena. Until next time, thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!


Packer's Perspective: A Sweet Finish for the Seniors

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It has been a while since the last post, and a lot has happened for the Wisconsin women's hockey team. I want to apologize for the long gap in posts. Life on the road has proven to be a bit hectic and scattered, but the next few weeks should be more on track. The trip to Duluth was a long one, with a five hour bus ride each way. The bus ride was relaxing for most of us as we didn't have much homework with the holiday weekend, and I made some cute little turkey cookies for the team to enjoy along the way. 

We left early Thursday morning, arriving in Duluth around 3 p.m., and hit the ice for practice. Practice was the usual round of drills to get the legs moving and finished up with the routine shootout. It was another goalie win on the road, which is always disappointing for the players, but we were happy with their choice for the singer at team meal.

After practice we went back to the hotel and enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving meal as a team. It was different, spending a holiday that is typically shared with our families, away from home with a group of girls in sweats; however, it was a good reminder what a solid group we really are. The group we spend so much time with is more than just a team, and truly becomes much like a family and it was nice to be able to spend the holiday with them. During the Thanksgiving meal the goalies pick of Mikayla Johnson as singer was revealed, and she chose to sing Follow Me by Uncle Kracker, nailing all the notes perfectly.

The game Friday night was a battle from the start. It is always tough to play Duluth on the road, and it took the team some time to get our legs moving and play Wisconsin hockey. We pushed through the obstacles and came together in the end as a team, and were happy to pull away with one point on the road for the night. It is tough to find a positive in a situation when we don't win, but a tie was enough for us to keep in good spirits and learn from the game to put our knowledge to use for Saturday night.

Saturday night's game was a different game altogether, but was a dogfight again nonetheless. The team played hard, and never gave up on the system. We came out with a lot of energy in the third period, and three shifts in, junior forward Karley Sylvester was able to find the back of the net on a beautiful shot glove side high. The team held the lead and played defensively to the end. Senior goaltender Alex Rigsby played great, as did freshman goaltender Ann Renee Desbiens. Ann came in the game cold in the second period, and made a few game changing saves to keep us in it until we got our momentum back. Ann earned the hardhat for the night, which is awarded to the player who embodies our team goals and makes plays that are gritty and sometimes unnoticed by the general public. The team was fired up to pull away with a win, and take 4 out of 6 points on the road. This was the first road win for the team in Duluth since my sophomore year, and it was a great way for the seniors to leave the ice up there one last time.

The team boarded the bus and headed back to Madison in good spirits. We watched Elf on the bus, which is always a team favorite, and also enjoyed some holiday snacks prepared by Mrs. Sylvester (Karley's mom). The trees were little corn flake wreaths, smothered in sprinkles and marshmallow. The team doesn't get to enjoy too many treats that often, so a treat on the way to Duluth and home were definitely highlights of the road trip. The team made it back into Madison around 2 am, and I speak for the entire squad when I say sleeping in my own bed never felt better.

Sunday was spent recovering and relaxing, preparing for school to start up again and taking care of our bodies in order to be ready for one final weekend of games before a much needed break. The team is looking forward to finishing the first half of the season off at home, and ready for the break that follows. 

The games this weekend are on Friday and Sunday at 2 p.m.. We hope to see as many people out as possible to cheer us on one last time in 2013 as we battle for points that will help us maintain our second place spot in the WCHA heading into the second half of the year. Stay tuned for another post this week, as players look forward to the games this weekend and talk about their favorite holiday activities. 

Until next time, thanks for reading, and On Wisconsin! 

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: Back from frigid North Dakota

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It was a big weekend for the Badgers with not much excitement but the games themselves. It was frigid cold in Grand Forks (the wind chill was -27 when we woke up Saturday), and the cold weather outside helped us stay focused in to the task at hand. We had a lot of down time with two late night games, but it was good to get extra recovery time, and also have consistency in our schedule over the weekend with games being at the same time each night.

Friday night was a good, tough battle, and Alex Rigsby stood tough for us between the pipes all the way through the end, shutting UND out not only in the game and overtime, but also during the three player shootout. Junior forward Blayre Turnbull executed an awesome move as the final shooter to capture the shootout win and allow us to skate through the first night winning an extra point. The first game was good, and it was nice to walk away with an extra point, but after the game we agreed as a team we could come out stronger.

We rallied together after Friday's game and came out flying Saturday night. We played as a team, executed well and took advantage of the chances that came our way. Junior forward Karley Sylvester scored a huge shorthanded goal to put us ahead, and capitalizing in the third period on a few power play opportunities allowed for us to end the night on top 3-1. We played great as a team overall in Grand Forks, and walking away with 5 out of 6 points on the road, especially in a place like North Dakota is something we are very happy with as a team.

We enjoyed the victory on the plane, and also celebrated a bit with the women's volleyball team (who swept over the weekend vs. Michigan State and Michigan) as we picked them up at the airport after their bus broke down.

 It was a great weekend, and it was nice to spend the off day Sunday relaxing, and also catching up on the release of the hot new Hunger Games film. Most of the team made their way over to the theater at some point Sunday to see the movie, and all were in agreement that it was worth the price of admission. Following the Hunger Games, a number of us relaxed while doing homework and also watching the American Music Awards.

The weekend was a success, but the work is not done yet. The team hits the ice again Monday to go to work in preparation for the upcoming games in Duluth. It is a tough stretch of games on the road, with each and every point weighing heavily on our status heading into the holiday break. The team looks forward to preparing this week to take care of business in Duluth, and we hope to keep the train rolling as we continue on to our ultimate goal. Until next time, thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

 - Madison

Packer's Perspective: Going up north

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Bowling Pic.jpg

Time to hit the ice again, as we have arrived in Grand Forks, N.D., and are ready to go to work this weekend. We left early Thursday morning, loaded up the bus and headed to the airport, taking a quick charter flight to Grand Forks. The ground was covered in snow and the bitter cold was a rude awakening early this morning. Practice went well, and the team had a good jump despite spending time on the plane and being carted around by various buses.

The highlight of the trip thus far has been the bowling tournament, although there was a fun crafts show set up in the lobby of the hotel where a few players bought some goodies. The bowling tournament was comprised of our team broken up into six smaller teams. It was friendly competition, and the Johnson family proved to be the best bowlers as Coach Johnson and Mikayla were unstoppable on the alley. 

The tournament was a fun change of pace, a great team bonding activity, and a good way to keep busying during the long block of free time. The team will have a pregame skate before Friday's game to go over systems and get our legs moving. We are looking forward to the first game as series with North Dakota are always high tempo and intense. These games are of utmost importance regarding to not only national ranking, but also the battle for the top three spots in the WCHA. 

We have prepared well all week for the series and are looking forward to working for a few road wins this weekend. The games begin tomorrow night at 7 p.m. and hope all those back home can take some time to tune in and watch us battle for bragging rights. Check back in at the end of the weekend for an overview and hopefully some positive feedback regarding the games this weekend.

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: The Journey Continues

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BLOG_IMG_1558.jpgThis weekend was quite the trip for the Badger squad. We started off Friday morning with a pregame skate, followed by meal and some down time before the game. 

The game against Northeastern was a battle, one of the toughest fights we have had yet this season, but we came together as a group, worked hard until the end and pulled out a victory over NU, with a congratulations to freshman Jenny Ryan for both the game winner and her first goal as a Badger. 

Friday night was spent in our rooms for the most part. It was late by the time we got back to the hotel and most girls ate and then went up to relax and get to bed. 

Saturday we woke up and went for a nice team walk through the village to get our legs warmed up, followed by a team stretch before meal and watching at little film to prepare for the game against Boston University. We had some downtime after the meal before loading up the bus and heading to the rink. The game was very different from the night before, and we came out strong. Friday night we were still having difficulty adjusting to the altitude, but Saturday was a whole different story as our high conditioning level played to our advantage in our 5-0 victory over BU. 

After the game, we headed back to the hotel and met with our families. The team and families went out to a small restaurant in Vail to hang out with one another and enjoy some food before heading back to the hotel and taking advantage of one last night in the Rockies. 


We stayed at a remarkable hotel that had a beautiful spa consisting of four hot tubs and a heated pool so naturally we all threw on our hotel robes, and headed down to relax after a hard fought weekend. We hung out as a group in the hot tub before turning in for the night.


Sunday morning we got up and had some breakfast (breakfast sandwiches were amongst the favorite item on the menu) before heading over to the rink to run a clinic and meet some young, hopeful future Badgers. The team was tired, but we enjoyed giving back to the crowd that supported us over the weekend, and the turnout was much more than we had anticipated. After the clinic we hung around and mingled with the young skaters for a bit, signing autographs and taking pictures, then loaded up the bus and headed back to the hotel. We packed up our rooms and fully loaded the bus, as we had to be out of the hotel by noon, after which we had three hours to kill around town, so most of us went shopping and saw a little more of the town that we missed out on while restricted by our game schedule. We gathered up at about 3:30, got on the bus and are headed to Denver. We are very lucky as we had a charter airplane waiting for us that took us right back to Madison. 

Our games resume this weekend as we head up to North Dakota to take them on in their home arena. The UND series will be a hard fought battle, considering they just ended the 62 game unbeaten streak by the Gophers, but we are looking to put the same game together that we did for BU and work hard again as a group. 


The team returns to the ice today to begin preparing for UND, continuing on our journey to our ultimate goal. Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

- Madison