Playoffs mean 2nd chance to Badgers

first_imgSophomore forward Carolyne Prevost looks at this weekend\’s series with Ohio State as a new beginning for UW.[/media-credit]It’s playoff time. And the playoffs mean fresh starts.Compared with recent seasons, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team skated to a less-than-satisfactory regular season. None of that matters in the playoffs, though, as the slate is wiped clean, and the team gets a second chance to be the number one team of the past couple seasons.Sporting an 18-13-3 overall record and a No. 10 ranking, the squad had an unusually rocky season. Despite the regular season results, the team is confident in the second chance the playoffs provide.“I think everyone is looking at the playoffs as a new [beginning], and obviously we’re going to do that,” sophomore forward Carolyne Prevost said. “Up to this point a team could have lost every game the whole season, and if they win the next seven games they win the NCAA title. We’re all just excited. It’s a time to redeem ourselves for the season that we’ve had, and I think we’re going to do really well.”With a chance to compensate for a consistently inconsistent season, the Badgers are ready to get going; but they are not the only ones with a fresh start — every team is playing to extend its season.Keeping this in mind, the Badgers are focusing on one game at a time.“The playoffs are a fresh start,” junior forward Mallory Deluce said. “Everyone has new records, so we just want to focus on winning our game Friday and worry about each game as it comes. Last year our record didn’t mean anything going into the playoffs, and this year our record doesn’t mean anything.”Despite a mostly lackluster season, the squad is still pulling some inspiration and momentum from the season’s highlights.Wisconsin ended its season in yet another series split with Minnesota.Although it did not pull through with a sweep, interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser believes the win over the No. 3 Golden Gophers will give the team confidence for the postseason and the challenge that lies ahead.“I think we are using the regular season to some degree to give us some momentum for the playoffs in that our split with Minnesota last weekend is a good indicator that we can play and beat anybody in the country. Hopefully our players believe in that and build on that.”While the playoffs may be a fresh start for everyone, it is different for the Badgers to be heading in as No. 10 rather than somewhere near the top.The underdog feeling is something this squad is not used to.“I think now we’re finally the underdog which this program is not really used to; but you know, kind of going back to the basics now,” junior defender Geena Prough said. “Hard work and good play is going to win us a hockey game, and I think everyone is definitely ready for that.”Being number one can sometimes be daunting. There can be a want to relax, but there is a lot of pressure to stay on top. Being lower in the rankings can also provide more pressure coupled with more motivation to fight towards the top.But sitting at No. 10, the Badgers are still unsure if they will make it to the NCAA tournament not being one of the top eight.Prevost noted that it feels much different than in the past when the Badgers sat in first.“I think there’s actually more pressure right now because we’re so close to making the NCAA top eight teams. It’s definitely a different situation than last year,” she said. “It’s almost more exciting because it’s playoff hockey, anything can happen and we’re just looking forward to it.”Second chances are hard to come by, but with the fresh start that the playoffs provide, the Badgers are fully embracing their chance to prove they can be the national championship team they have been in the past.And to prove what it can do, Wisconsin has to play that championship style.“You hate to say ‘must win’ games because that’s pressure in and of itself, but we understand that we don’t want these to be our last two games or three games of our season,” DeKeyser said. “So that should be great incentive for our players and our coaches in preparing for the games and just leaving it all on the ice.”last_img

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