Women's hockey inks six during early signing period


Nov. 26, 2013

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin women’s hockey head coach Mark Johnson has announced six student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to play at the University of Wisconsin. Those planning to join the team for the 2014-15 season include Taylar (T.T.) Cianfarano (Oswego, N.Y.), Emily Clark (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Annie Pankowski (Laguna Hills, Calif.), Maddie Rolfes (West Des Moines, Iowa), Baylee Wellhausen (Williams Bay, Wis.) and Lauren Williams (Windsor, Ontario).

“The thing that excites us about the whole group is that they have great families, great work habits and they are great students,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “They do all the things that might not get noticed normally that we look from in a recruiting standpoint. They are great role models, they are good citizens, they have great leadership skills, they have played at a high level and they participated in multiple camps at a high level, which helps all of them in their growth to become better players. It is a bigger class than we anticipated, but it is an opportunity to bring in quality players.

“You look on paper, it is an exciting group. It will create great competition among everyone. They will be young, but they will grow. They have played at a high level, they have been exposed to a high level for their age group and they have all had success at it. With their work habits and their tools, they are only going to get better.”


Taylar (T.T.) Cianfarano
Hailing from Oswego, N.Y., Cianfarano is a 5-6 forward currently competing for the National Sports Academy Mountaineers in Lake Placid, N.Y. She led the team in points her junior and sophomore years, recording a total of 75 goals and 72 assists in 63 games last season as a junior and 70 goals and 55 assists the season prior. She was also awarded Team MVP recognition following the 2012-13 season with the Mountaineers, along with earning 2nd Team All Star with the JWHL. Before attending NSA, Cianfarano spent her freshman year at Northwood School in Lake Placid, where she tallied 27 goals and 18 assists on the season with the school’s women’s hockey team.

Cianfarano has spent time skating internationally, joining the Team USA U18 National Team in the 2013 World Championship in Finland and went on to earn a silver medal. For the past four years, she has been invited to participate in the U.S. National Development Camp, held each summer. Cianfarano was also invited to compete in the JWHL All-Star Game her junior and sophomore years.

Personal: Parents are John and Maureen … siblings include two brothers, Dominic (20) and Collin (10) … shoots left … competed in lacrosse and soccer in high school … is undecided on an intended major.

Johnson on Cianfarano: “She has great skill, is a gifted scorer with great speed. When you watch her play, her skill-set and her gift of getting the puck into the net separates her from a lot of people. She is a member of the U.S. Under-18  team, and we look forward to her four years here. She has great upside, she is very skilled when she gets the puck and we are excited to have her.”

Expectations for first season at UW:
“To contribute and improve my overall game.”

Favorite thing about Madison:
“The campus and its surroundings.”


Emily Clark

Clark, a 5-7 forward from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is currently a senior at Penticton Secondary School in Penticton, British Columbia. During her senior year, she leads the Okanagan Hockey Academy with 18 points off nine goals and nine assists in its first thirteen games of the 2013-14 season. Clark tallied 15 goals and 23 assists in 31 games her junior year, an effort that earned her the Okanagan Hockey Academy Female Prep MVP award, and a nomination to the Junior Women’s Hockey League 2nd All-Star Team. Her Okanagan Hockey Academy team went on to win a silver medal at the World Sport School Challenge in 2013. Before joining the Okanagan Hockey Academy, Clark skated with the Saskatoon Comets team in Saskatoon during her freshman and sophomore years.

Clark has acquired ample international hockey experience after competing with touring teams in Czech Republic during the 2011-12 season and Finland in 2012-13. She also skated for Canada’s U18 National team in the 2012 and 2013 U18 IIHF World Championships, earning two gold medals. She was named captain of the national team in the 2013 Canada-USA series. Clark was also selected to attend the U22 Canadian national women’s developmental camp this past August.

Personal: Parents are Del and Tracy … is the youngest of six, with older brothers Jeff (28), Kevin (24), Brian (22) and Robbie (21), and older sister Kristina (26) … shoots left … competed in box and field lacrosse in high school … favorite professional athlete is Caroline Ouellette … intends to major in business.

Johnson on Clark: “She is another skilled player. She skates very well. She has a great feel for the game, and understands how to play. Emily has a great hockey sense, and she was part of the Canadian Under-18 program a year ago. She was highly touted, and is a player that will come in and people will be excited for her skill set and her understanding of the game.”

Expectations for first season at UW:
“I am expecting to be challenged on and off the ice every day and to grow and learn as a person and player.”

Favorite thing about Madison:
“The welcoming feel and the atmosphere of the campus.”


Annie Pankowski
Pankowski, a 5-9 forward from Laguna Hills, Calif., competed with the North American Hockey Academy Winter Hawks in Stowe, Vt., for four years before signing with the Badgers. She was named team captain during her junior year, where she helped the Winter Hawks to a 55-15-7 season record with 66 goals and 24 assists. Pankowski then tallied 102 points her senior year off 58 goals and 44 assists. The team claimed Junior Women’s Hockey League and CAN/AM Championship titles her sophomore and junior years. She also was invited to play in the All-Star Game at the USA National Camp all four years of high school (2010-2013).

After signing to play for the Badgers last November and finishing her prep career at North American Hockey Academy, Pankowski was invited to participate in the U.S. Women’s National Team Selection Camp in Lake Placid, NY on June 17-23. From her performance at the camp, Pankowski was chosen to train and skate with the U.S. Women’s National Team in the various competitions leading up to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, putting her commitment to the Badgers on hold. She joins former Badgers Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight and Jessie Vetter on the U.S. National Team.

Before her time on the U.S National Team, Pankowski enjoyed international success on the U.S. U18 team. She was named to the USA U18 team that took silver at the 2012 IIHF World Championships during her junior year. In addition, she was also invited to participate with players from around the world at the annual International Ice Hockey Federation Development Camp. In 2012, she skated with the Team USA U18’s in World Championship tournaments in Finland and Czech Republic. During her freshman and sophomore years, Pankowski was asked to skate in the U18 National Team in Lake Placid, NY, and the USA U18 Select Team in a three-game series against Canada, respectively.

Personal: Parents are Richard and Diane … siblings include 23-year-old brother John and 19-year-old sister Ali, who is currently a sophomore on Princeton’s women’s hockey team … shoots right … plays hacky sac before every game … competed in soccer, softball and outrigger racing in high school … is undecided on an intended major.

Johnson on Pankowski: “She has gotten great exposure and wonderful opportunities to not only play with the U.S. national team, but to work out with them and be around them on a daily basis. There are some fantastic mentors on that group, with Meghan (Duggan), Brianna (Decker), Jessie (Vetter), Hilary (Knight) and some of the other players who are part of that group. It is a great opportunity for her to grow as a player, and as she enters her freshman year next fall at Wisconsin, she is going to be that much better and experienced. We are excited for her opportunity that she has had this year and look forward to her coming in next fall. I think Badger fans will be excited to see her develop and continue her growth process during her four years at Wisconsin.”

Why Wisconsin:
“Unmatched coaching and facilities.”

Annie Pankowski

Maddie Rolfes
Born in West Des Moines, Iowa, Rolfes currently skates with the Shattuck St. Mary’s Sabres in Minnesota. The 5-7 defenseman has recorded 13 points on three goals and 10 assists in her 19 games with the team so far this season. Rolfes, along with future Wisconsin teammate Baylee Wellhausen, led the Sabres to a third-place finish at the national championships during her junior year. She has tallied a total of 24 goals and 52 assists during her four seasons with Shattuck St. Mary’s.

Rolfes played internationally with Team USA’s U18 squad in the 2013 World Championship in Finland, and was awarded Player of the Game in the team’s contest against Czech Republic, along with winning a silver medal. She was invited to participate in the U.S. national camp in the summers of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and each summer since 2010 and skated internationally for the U.S. U18 Women’s National Team in 2012 and 2013.

Personal: Parents are Pat and Kelle … has a 12-year-old brother named John … shoots right … played lacrosse in high school … role model is Erik Karlsson … is undecided on an intended major.

Johnson on Rolfes: “She is very composed on the blue line, but can jump up offensively. She will bring a lot as she comes into Wisconsin. She is another player that is a part of the U.S. U18 team, and is another player out of Shattuck St. Mary’s. With her composure and her shot and her ability to add offense, she will be a great addition to our d-line.”

Expectations for first season at UW:
“Great team chemistry and lots of hard work.”

Favorite thing about Madison:
“The friendliness of the Midwest folk."


Baylee Wellhausen

Wellhausen, a 5-4 forward from Williams Bay, Wis., currently plays for the Shattuck St. Mary’s Sabres. A senior and team captain, Wellhausen has recorded 17 goals and 16 assists in 22 games so far this season. Over the course of four years with the Sabres, Wellhausen has tallied 208 total points propelled SSM to a third-place showing in the national championships during her junior year.

Internationally, Wellhausen skated with Team USA’s U18 group in Finland at the 2013 World Championships, where she scored two goals and recorded four assists in the team’s five games, along with earning as silver medal. She has also been invited to the U.S. National Development Camp every summer since 2010.

Personal: Parents are Kevin and Christina … has a 14-year-old sister named Brooke … shoots left … played lacrosse in high school … favorite professional athlete is Jonathan Toews …. intended major is communications or English.

Johnson on Wellhausen: “She has been involved in our camps and we have known her for a long time. We are excited that she chose to come here, especially because she is the niece of Cammi Granato. She has been a member of the U.S. Under-18 team, and certainly is a skilled player. She plays out of Shattuck, and has been there for a number of years. She brings a lot of energy. People notice her because she skates really well. She has a great deal of skill, and we are excited for her to be a part of the program.”

Expectations for first season at UW:
“I am simply ready for an amazing year! I expect to be a part of a hard-working, dedicated team that is very close and gives everything they have, while enjoying playing the best sport in the world.”

Favorite thing about Madison:
“The atmosphere! Madison is so lively!”


Lauren Williams
A 5-9 defenseman from Windsor, Ontario, Williams currently skates with the Whitby Wolves in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League out of Ontario. She was a key component of the team during her junior year, where they went on to win the league championship.

Williams represented her province competing with Team Ontario Blue in the 2012 U18 Canadian National Championships earning a goal medal in her debut. Her performance during a tournament game against Manitoba earned her the Player-of-the-Game award. She played with Team Ontario Blue for a second stint earing a silver medal at the 2013 U18 Canadian National Championships. Williams was also selected to participate in Team Canada’s U18 Strength and Condition Camp, as well as the team’s top 40 Selection Camp this past summer.

In addition, Williams has earned a variety of recognitions for her efforts on the varsity soccer, volleyball and track and field teams during her freshman and sophomore years at Riverside Secondary School.

Personal: Parents are Robin and Gary … has a 20-year-old brother named Maxwell … competed in volleyball, soccer, track and field, softball and sailing in high school … intended major is psychology.

Johnson on Williams: “It’s a great opportunity for her. If you categorize her, she is a defensive defenseman. The thing you notice about her is that she has great size and moves very well. Her PWHL team won the championship, she has played for Team Ontario Blue in the past national championships, so she comes with high marks. She comes with different skills in different sports, and is a good athlete. As she continues to mature, and with her work habits, she will only continue to get better and better.”

Expectations for first season at UW:
“I expect to improve on my game on the ice and improve my fitness off the ice.”

Favorite thing about Madison:
“The atmosphere and campus.”

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