Oct. 24, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- After sweeping St. Cloud State University last weekend, the No. 2 Wisconsin women's hockey team will host Lindenwood University. The Badgers and the Lady Lions face off on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. in the LaBahn Arena and will conclude the contest on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m.
The clash will mark Wisconsin's (4-2-0, 4-2-0) first non-conference games of the year. Lindenwood (0-7-1) is a part of the College Hockey America (CHA) conference and will face the Badgers riding a six-game losing streak.
"One thing I've learned is you have to respect your opponent," UW head coach Mark Johnson said. "Don't look at their record. Don't look at their history. Prepare for that 60 minutes Friday night like it's the last game of the season and you have to go out and win it."
For Lindenwood, this will be the second-highest ranked team they have faced in NCAA history, falling short of only the 2011-12 Wisconsin team that was ranked No. 1 when it played the Lady Lions. LU played their first ever NCAA DI game against UW on Sept. 23, 2011, and Wisconsin has won all four meetings between the two schools, outscoring Lindenwood 40-3.
Wisconsin ranks second in the country in scoring defense, allowing an average of 1.00 goals per game. The Badgers are also second in the country for most shutouts this year with two. The Cardinal and White are ranked eighth in scoring offense averaging 3.17 goals per tilt.
"The object now is to grow," said Johnson. "We'll get a better feel of that in February when we come down and play the two games here in Madison (against Minnesota). It would be a great measuring stick, especially that time of year, because you're not too far from the playoffs. Give ourselves a chance to grow and develop and work with our younger players and try to make them better between now and then."
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Junior Brittany Ammerman is tied for 10th in the country with 1.67 points per game. Ammerman tallied three goals and three assists in UW's sweep of St. Cloud State. Fellow junior Blayre Turnbull also had an impressive weekend, which earned the assistant captain WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors. She recorded five points last weekend and ranks second on the team in points per contest.
Turnbull isn't the only Badger to be honored by the WCHA this year, as senior Alex Rigsby was named WCHA Defensive Player of Week on Oct. 9. With a shutout of Minnesota State, Rigsby earned her 24th career shutout, the second most in UW history. Rigsby's save percentage of .953 is the fifth-best in the nation and the second best in WCHA. With 86 career wins, Rigsby needs six more wins to pass netminder Jessie Vetter for the most wins in school history.
Freshman Ann-Renée Desbiens made an impressive debut with her first shutout on Saturday against SCSU. During the game, Desbiens made 17 saves for the win and needs only 28 to break into the top-10.
"I thought her composure, I thought her poise didn't look like it was her first game," Johnson said. "She was excited. She got the game puck after the game, and certainly she's going to be part of our group as we move forward. I was happy to get her in and see her play well. Very poised and did a great job, especially in the third period when we took three penalties. They were on the power play quite a bit. She seemed comfortable."
Desbiens isn't the only freshman that Johnson has been impressed with, as Sarah Nurse collected her second career goal against SCSU and Mellissa Channell recorded two assists.
"I've been very impressed since our first practice with this group," Johnson said. "They seem to be composed. They haven't been really nervous at any other point than maybe taking our team photo. They're growing. They're developing good habits. As you watch them as we proceed throughout this season, they'll only continue to get better."
The Lady Lions enter this weekend with Nicole Hensley, who is first in the NCAA with 284 saves this season. Last season against Wisconsin, Hensley had a .851 save percentage and a 5.90 goals against average in over 71 minutes of action. Kendra Broad leads the Lady Lions with five points this year. The trio of Broad, Jocelyn Slattery and Alyssa West lead LU with two goals apiece.