March 2, 2011
MADISON, Wis. – In preparation for this weekend's WCHA Final Face-off, UWBadgers.com caught up with senior Meghan Duggan (Danvers, Mass.) to get her take on the Badgers' semifinal matchup against North Dakota at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
Q: With the first round behind you, do you think the team is any more comfortable?
Duggan: "Yeah, I definitely think we’re comfortable going into the series. We’ve had a great year so far, and now that we’ve got that first round of playoffs under our belt, we know what it’s going to be like. Teams compete. We played St. Cloud State, we’re No. 1, they’re No. 8, and they gave us two incredible games. I think now we know what to look for and we know that all the games are going to be competitive and hard from here on out. As long as we continue to do what we’ve been doing, we’ll be successful."
Q: How does the team prepare for possibly two games against two different opponents?
Duggan: "It’s just one of those things. It happened to us in January when we played Northeastern and Mercyhurst, so no matter who you’re playing or what game you’re in, you just have to focus on that opponent. If we win on Friday night, we have to turn around and refocus on a new opponent. We’ll watch video and do all the same things, just in a shorter amount of time. It’s one of those things as an athlete, you just have to be ready for anything a team is going to throw at you, but I think we’re ready for any team as long as we stick to our game plan and keep competing hard like we have been all year."
Q: With the format of the playoffs being single-elimination from here on out, is there any added sense of urgency with each game?
Duggan: "For sure. Playoffs are a crazy time of year, it’s one-and-done in most of the tournaments. It’s one of those things where you don’t get a second chance. You can’t have people saying, ‘What if this, what if that.’ You want to leave everything out on the ice, and we have a lot of players on this team that have some playoff experience, which is good. But, on the other hand, we have players who don’t. The girls on the team last year didn’t get to this level. We just have to make sure that everyone is ready and knows that they don’t get a second chance. Coach Johnson does a good job reiterating that, and I think our team is pretty focused and ready to compete."
Q: How does playing on a neutral rink affect your game?
Duggan: "My game, personally, I love playing in Minneapolis. I love any time we play there and beating the Gophers on their home ice. I think it’s exciting and a great atmosphere. Minnesota loves hockey, so it’s fun there for us. In terms of playing North Dakota at Ridder Arena, they play there twice a year and we play there twice a year, and it’s just one of those things. You have to know the rink and know your opponent, and you don’t focus too much on those little things, you just bring your game. We’ve played there before, so we know what the rink is like and we’ll go from there."
Q: The Lamoureux twins scored half of North Dakota’s goals last weekend. How do you plan to shut them down?
Duggan: "We’ve played them four times already this year, and I think we have some of the best defense in the country. We’ve got Stefanie McKeough and Brittany Haverstock back there that are just solid for us, and obviously Alex Rigsby’s been playing unbelievable in net. Those guys know that Jocelyn Lamoureux and Monique Lamoureux-Kolls are a pretty talented duo, and I think that they’ll play them honest, that’s all they have to do. They like to beat players one-on-one, and as long as our defenders know that, we’ll be able to do all right against them."
Q: What does the team have to watch out for against North Dakota?
Duggan: "Like you said before, Jocelyne and Monique are two dominant players. They have excellent shots and in a small rink like Ridder, those two can shoot from anywhere and hit corners from anywhere, so Rigsby needs to be aware of that. And like I said, they like to beat players one-on-one. They’ll try to put the puck between your skates and walk around you, so the defense needs to be aware, and we need to get back-pressure from our forwards. We just have to be aware of who is on the ice and when they are on the ice every time we step on. We can’t let them catch a step on us on face-offs or get behind us, looking for a stretch-pass. They’re two dominant players obviously. They were on the Olympic team last year, and they’ve made a name for themselves for a reason. We need to keep those two in the back of our minds, but not change our game. We’ve beaten North Dakota four times this year and we’ve done what we’ve done and we are where we are for a reason."
The top-seeded Badgers will face No. 4-seeded North Dakota on Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the WCHA Final Face-off. Puck drop is at 4p.m. CT, and fans can follow the action live on the Gameday blog. The winner will face the winner of the second semifinal game between No. 2 Minnesota Duluth and No. 3 Minnesota on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT.
UW Athletic Communications