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Packer's Perspective: Gearing up for the opening weekend

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The week is wrapping up and the Wisconsin women's hockey team is getting prepared to open the season off against Minnesota State. This week has been pretty uneventful, and the team is focused. 

The big hype for the team this week is the premier of Scandal on ABC that the team plans to watch together Thursday night. Other than that, practice has been our main concern and preparing ourselves for what is to come and the start of our journey. 

For this week, I talked to a few teammates and got their take on the upcoming weekend. This might be a shorter blog post than normal, but shows the emotions of my teammates who are excited and prepared to start climbing the mountain to the top come drop of the puck Friday. 

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Junior forward Blayre Turnbull has high expectations for her team this weekend, but also for the fans watching and cheering us on.

"The thing I'm most looking forward to this weekend is seeing all of our fans pack the arena," Turnbull said. "It is such a great feeling to be able to come onto the ice and see over 2000 fans in the stands. Hopefully we are able to feed off of their energy and give them a reason to keep on cheering throughout all six periods this weekend." 

Junior forward Karley Sylvester was another teammate I spoke with about the game, and she looks forward to starting the season Friday night. 

"I am really looking forward to starting the year off strong," Sylvester said. "I know the team has worked extremely hard in the off-season to be as prepared as we can. It is going be a fun to watch our team grow together as a family and accomplish great things along the way." 

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Another Badger excited to kick off the year is Brittany Ammerman. Fans are familiar with her absence in the lineup last year and she is looking forward to Friday night to resume her career. She enjoyed playing against Team Japan, but is anxious to start the season in hopes of a promising finish for the group. 

"It feels great to be back and be contributing to the team on the ice," Ammerman said while discussing the emotions of being back with the team. "Our game against Team Japan allowed our freshman to get their nerves out and feet wet and served the same purpose for me. After not playing for a year, I needed an exhibition game like that to get back into the flow of the game completely. I think this weekend will be a great stepping stone for our team and allow us to learn about ourselves and officially begin our journey together. We have a great group of team players and I am looking forward to seeing how much we have progressed since the Japan game and how much we will progress from this weekend forward."

Brit is excited to be back and we are certainly looking forward to having her contribute to the team's success this season.

One final teammate I caught up with is sophomore forward, Molly Doner. She spent much of the summer working hard alongside her teammates, improving skills and working to build off the previous season. 

"I am looking forward to starting this season's journey with my teammates." Doner said. "I spent time this summer working on my speed, quickness and confidence. By deciding to stay in Madison during the summer, I not only had the opportunity to take classes, but also to workout with my teammates whenever I wanted. When I came in last year, I was nervous and played in fear of making a mistake. Now, after a year of competitive play and another summer of hard work, my confidence has increased and I feel like I'm using my speed and playing the way I can to create opportunities." 

Doner summed up the attitude of the entire squad heading into this weekend: excited, prepared, and confident. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at LaBahn Arena. We hope to see a packed building, as this weekend is the beginning of our journey to great things this season.

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin! 

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: An action-packed weekend

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It seems like every post I write about how exciting a time the team has had; only to trump the last post with the new one...well this time is no different. The UW women's hockey team had nothing short of a fun packed time this past weekend during our team bonding event a few miles out of town. 

After the premier of Grey's Anatomy watched by a majority of the team on the big screen in our locker room Thursday night, we had a nice spa recovery day on Friday to prepare us for the harsh battle to come Saturday morning. At 9 a.m. Saturday, the players piled in to cars and headed out to a paintball facility, where we played six games of paintball. Coach Johnson, Paul Hickman, seniors and freshmen were on one team, and the rest of the staff, juniors, and sophomores were on the other. The tournament of six games had a rocky start for the senior and freshman team, as we quickly fell to the other squad in the first speed ball game, and the second that took place in a trenched fort. The third game showed patience from my senior squad however, and we made it a 2-1 game as we captured the castle and held our ground for the three minutes required. 

After the third game, Coach Johnson had enough, and headed to the sidelines. He was an asset for our team, but after his departure our team rallied to sweep the final three games. We took the castle again, and defeated the juniors and sophomores in the painful game of double shot elimination. We had a few players with happy triggers, so we went through about ten boxes of paint. Luckily for the senior led team, Paul Hickman carried some extra hoppers so we were never low on ammo. 

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The MVP of the paintball tournament would have to be sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke. Although junior forward, Blayre Turnbull, pictured above covered in pink paint, took a fair beating and put up a good fight, Courtney got pelted with about 15 paintballs simultaneously from a good 15 feet away. She wobbled a bit and may have fallen to the ground, but she rallied and played on. There was some question of sportsmanship and the twenty-foot surrender rule, but the senior/freshman squad was simply trying to defend the castle, and made a good judgment call in my opinion to win the game. (Sorry Court!)

After a solid two and a half hours of paintball, we headed out to Coach Johnson's for the annual team BBQ. It was a blast as always, and the food was spectacular as Coach is a master-griller, Coach Jackie Friesen is also a great cook, as we all think was Martha Stewart (with organic recipes of course) in her previous life, so there were a wide variety of goodies to choose from. Coach Jackie showed up with a dessert that looked like it hopped off the page of a cooking magazine. It was a combination of homemade gingerbread, homemade whipped cream, and homemade pumpkin pudding, and it was delicious! 

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The BBQ also is the location of the competitive team volleyball tournament. There are no real rules other than having seniors win, so naturally the seniors (shown above) took the title after defeating the freshmen by a ten point spread in the first game and handily defeating the juniors in the championship, 25-0. The MVP of the volleyball tournament is tough to decide on, but I think it would have to be a tie between senior goaltender Ilana Friedman and myself. Senior Natalie Berg had a mighty serve, and Kelly Jaminski's height was a major asset as well. Alex Rigsby was fantastic all over the grass court, but there is no denying that Ilana and I really stepped up big and helped our team secure the victory.

 In a post game interview with Alex Rigsby, she stated she was a bit upset with freshmen officials Sarah Nurse and Sydney McKibbon, as well as head official Courtney Burke, but when asked to comment on their apparent bias during the match, the officials declined to give a quote. Non the less, the seniors stepped up and won the championship, making the Saturday bonding all the more memorable for our class. 

Sunday was a relaxing off day for the group, as we took our team picture and many participated in a walk that junior Brittany Ammerman was active and passionate about promoting. It was a walk around the capital that promoted the end of GYN cancers, and was a success! 

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Also, junior forward Katy Josephs and myself volunteered to help out with the Timberwolves hockey team practice at Madison Ice Arena. It was a collection of players from around the Madison area, and it was a great experience. Both these events were awesome for all involved, and I speak for the group when I say we are always humbled and appreciative when we are able to give back to a community that has always been supportive of our endeavors. 

Overall, it was a great weekend, and a great way to head into the week in preparation for Minnesota State. The group is enthusiastic, positive, and excited for what the future holds as we prepare to embark on our journey through the season. The preseason has been great, but now the work begins, and we are ready to go! 

Until next time, thanks for reading! On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Packer's Perspective: First step for the Badgers

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Monday night was full of excitement and I want to thank all the fans who came out and supported the Badgers in our first showing of the season. Congratulations to Brittany Ammerman in her first game back since being out for almost the entire season last year, and also to the freshmen Ann Renee Desbiens, Sydney McKibbon, Sarah Nurse, and Mellissa Channell on their first game as Badgers. 

The freshies proved to be a solid fit for us from the crease all the way to the offensive zone and we look forward to having them contribute this season. The freshmen were also happy with the way their first game went, and were thrilled with having their first experience finally here. 

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"It was an amazing feeling being able to put on the Wisconsin jersey and play in my first game," Sydney McKibbon said.  "I was surprised stepping out on the ice and seeing all the fans that were there to support us and cheer us on. I was definitely a little nervous at first but once our line settled in it was such a fun game. I can't wait to play next weekend in our first season game against Minnesota State." 

McKibbon's good friend, and roommate, freshman defenseman Mellissa Channell had similar emotions.

"Stepping on the ice the first time was incredible," Channell said. "You could feel how high the energy was in the building. The first couple shifts I was a little nervous, but having such a supportive team that feeling went away. Now that I have the first game under my belt I can't wait to get the season going, and begin the journey with the team." 

One freshman the fans may not know yet, is Jenny Ryan. However, this is a name you will want to familiarize yourself with as she too is sure to be an asset for us this year on defense. Jenny is set to return to the ice with us soon and is excited for her college career to begin.

 "I'm looking forward to putting the jersey on for the first time and feeling the excitement of being with the team," Ryan said. "I'm expecting to be a little bit nervous seeing that I haven't played in a while and this is a little bit different than what I am used to playing, but I think that once I get out there I will be too excited to be nervous and it will be a lot of fun."

 I couldn't agree more with Jenny as it will be a lot of fun to have her out there with us and we look forward to the depth that will accompany her as she takes her place back in the line up!

The team had a great showing all around, especially considering we only had two practices against our belt to prepare for a team we have never seen before. We were moving the puck well, communicating with one another, and accomplished our team goal of playing together for a solid 60 minutes. The team was happy with our first performance, but also will use this as a learning tool as we prepare to kick off our WCHA season next weekend against Minnesota State. 

With the motivation of the regular season in mind, we went right back at it Tuesday, competing in a high level practice to try and simulate a game weekend in our typical schedule. We had a good on ice session with the coaches and then hit the weight room to improve our fitness and agility off the ice. Wednesday will be used as a recovery day. Some hot and cold tub contrast, and the ladies are looking forward to reopening the sauna that is an always a good place to relax and socialize. 

This week will finish off with us back on the ice Thursday and Friday, and then we will head out for a team bonding activity Saturday. The team bonding this year is paintball...with a competitive group like the one we have, I am anxious to see how it goes. The coaches also participate in this activity and it's always fun when Coach Johnson starts firing paintballs at you like Rambo! The paintball activity is one we have done in the past and is a fun change of pace from our typical on ice endeavors. 

Following paintball, we will have our annual team BBQ. This is a much anticipated event, especially for the seniors since the volleyball tournament that takes place each year is always won by the senior class (not saying its rigged or anything). The BBQ is a fun time to hang out, relax, eat some good food, and cheer on the Badger football team as they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.

This weekend is a nice way to close out the preseason before we hit it hard next week in preparation for Minnesota State. We have a hard working group, with various assets across the board, and are anxious to start the season together. We have a long journey ahead of us, but the positivity and mentality of our group thus far is looking to be a major bonus as we head into the year. Thank you to all the fans who have supported us, and those who came out Monday to cheer us on. We kick off the regular season on Friday, October 4th at 7 p.m. against the Mavericks and hope all who can make it will come out to support us on our journey. Thanks for reading.

On Wisconsin!

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: The excitement continues

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Hey followers! It was a big weekend for the Wisconsin women's hockey team, full of excitement and activity. We were introduced on the football field Saturday as the football guys took on and defeated Purdue, and were joined by Team Japan, our opponent for the game Monday.

 I also had the privilege of sitting on the patio with a few fans from the Children's Hospital. This was an amazing experience. I am always humbled when meeting these young kids who take on life with such courage. They were so full of life and happy to be there watching the game and cheering the Badgers on, despite the battles many of them face on a daily basis in their own lives. These kids are such and inspiration and it was a great experience for me to get to know them. I want to thank them for coming out and supporting Badger athletics and wish them luck and the best as they continue on the road to lead healthy lives.

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There was another exciting moment at the Badger game this weekend for those who did not attend. Army Captain Jane Renee "JR" Lund has been stationed in southern Afghanistan for the last several months, but was able to return home sooner than her anticipated October arrival and surprise her daughter Bella on the field during an intermission. This reunion was one that brought fans to their feet, roaring praise and applaud from the student section, and left several people in joyful tears (including myself). It was a beautiful reunion to witness, and I want to thank Captain Jane Renee for her service. It was an emotional reunion on the field, and one that touched the hearts of many as we stood by watching. I am grateful for Captain Lund and all she has done to serve our country, and wish her and her daughter nothing but the best as they catch up on life that has passed while she was away.
Along with these exciting moments, the Badgers took the ice for our first two official practices of the season. It was great to finally be able to kick off the year. The tempo was high, faces were smiling, and the coaches put us right to work. We went over a number of things to prepare us for the game against Japan, and it was great to get back into the swing of things after a long summer of training and conditioning. Monday night we will see just what our summer training has done as we gear up to face Japan in our first match of the 2013-14 season. I encourage all those who have time to come out and support us, admission is free, and it is sure to be a great experience as playing a national team is not something that happens often! I hope all had a great weekend, perhaps just as exciting as that of the Wisconsin women's hockey team, and we hope to see you out at LaBahn as we take on Team Japan! Check the blog in the days following the game as I will have a post filled with after thoughts and reactions to our first game as a team!

Until then, thanks for reading and On Wisconsin! 

- Madison

Packer's Perspective: Back to the ice

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The time is drawing near and the anticipation of the season is beginning to make some of us restless. We have been on the ice a few times, not in full go practice yet as there are rules and regulations that we have to follow, but the team couldn't be more excited to open up at home next Monday against Team Japan. This weekend is set to be a fun one, with the football guys returning back to Camp Randall to play Purdue, and we get announced on the field, which is always a highlight of the year!!
 
Things have been pretty quiet for us as girls settle into their class schedules, and get ready for the season to begin. The focus and commitment of the team is awesome! We just completed our series of preseason tests, consisting of numerous off-ice strength and conditioning tests, along with the dreaded on-ice shuttles, but the girls rallied together and killed it!

The team has been busy breaking in new gear, and putting the final touches on personal preferences as we prepare for the season to be underway. Our director of ops Paul Hickman had a bit of a scare when freshman, Sarah Nurse, attempted to put black tape on the knob of her stick (a huge no no) but she was straightened out and Paul was able to maintain his sanity.

The first round of exams are just around the corner for some of us, as crazy as it seems. In two weeks or so, about the time of our first regular season home game, many of us will already have one exam under our belt! Whether it be exams, practices, or the quality down time, life is good for the Badgers in Madison. We are excited to head into the weekend and prepare for the upcoming game against Team Japan! Hope to see all those who can make it at LaBahn Arena at 7 p.m. Monday night!

Thanks for reading, On Wisconsin!

-Madison


Packer's Perspective: Back to school

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The time is finally here! The first day of class, we are all so excited to be back in school...On a more enthusiastic note, the team is geared up and ready to hit the ice for the first time together as a squad in the 2013-14 season in the upcoming weeks. As summer came to an end we had a few barbeques as a group, enjoying the outdoors, and the above average grilling skills of senior goaltender, Ilana Friedman. 

We also appeared as the guest team at the first Badgerville of the 2013 Wisconsin football season. After a few onstage words from myself, and motivation for what is to come from junior forward, Blayre Turnbull, a number of us put on our festive Badger apparel, and headed to Camp Randal to cheer our fellow Badgers on to the football team's first win of the season over UMass. It was a fun weekend, and the first Jump Around of the year is always a great tradition to take part in.

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Labor Day was spent at the Friedman's home in Middleton, where we relaxed in their amazing garden, complements of Ms. Friedman herself. We enjoyed everything from brats and burgers, to five star chicken marinated by sophomore defenseman, Courtney Burke.

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The first day of classes is always crazy, our freshman were pretty good about not getting lost on their first day, but you can always count on someone to go to her Monday classes on Tuesday, and this year it was SENIOR Ilana Friedman...she will learn, just may take graduating to get there. My schedule is pretty prime, no classes too early, and not an overwhelming load, but for the engineers in the group such as juniors Katy Josephs and Katarina Zgraja and sophomore Jorie Walters, the class schedule feels a bit more overwhelming I would assume. Classes are a just starting to kick off and it should be a fun semester as everyone seems pretty comfortable and confident about their course load!

The group is a pretty special squad this season, and every get together is full of laughter and inside jokes. The team is motivated and ready to go to work this season, and can't wait to see the fans out at our first game against Japan in just a few weeks! Now that the season is gearing up, the blog will be updated more frequently, and will include a behind the scene look at what this Badger squad is doing on our journey to the top this season! Until next time, On Wisconsin!

-Madison

Archived Gameday Blog: UW Women at Penn State

Please join Diane Nordstrom of the Wisconsin Athletic Communications as she chronicles all of the action from tonight's Big Ten Conference women's basketball game between Wisconsin (19-8, 9-7) and Penn State (16-10, 8-8).

Dear Badger Fans

A letter from future Olympian and Badger, Hilary Knight

Dear Badger Fans,

First off I want to thank you for all of your support. I have had a wonderful experience at Wisconsin most of which wouldn't be possible without your Badger spirit.

Coming back to Madison

By Meghan Duggan, member of Team USA and senior-to-be at Wisconsin

Everyone wants to know what it felt like when the 21 names were finally released; I will tell you all what I tell them, it's a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Rhode Island

By Olivia Jakiel, Wisconsin women's hockey

This past weekend marked the second road trip where our team chartered a plane to our destination; this time it was Providence, Rhode Island. An early departure of 5 a.m. from Camp Randall would make for a very grumpy bus ride to the airport (so you would think); however, the team was chatty and extremely bubbly (I would like to thank my four cups of coffee for that). Once we arrived we headed straight for the rink to practice, where Stef (McKeough) won the showdown again and picked Jasmine (Giles) to sing.

ON WISCONSIN