Women’s hockey: Johnson looks ahead as Badgers eye redemption in Frozen Four

first_imgThe Wisconsin women’s hockey team is looking ahead to the matchup with the Minnesota Golden Gophers this week after ending the season on a high note, going 35-3-1 overall and remaining undefeated at home. Head coach Mark Johnson said he feels grateful for another week of practice and game to play.After defeating Mercyhurst 6-0, clinching their spot in the NCAA Frozen Four, the Badgers will face the Gophers in Durham, New Hampshire. The last time the Badgers played the Gophers, they lost both games, one ending in overtime. The Badgers have played the Gophers five times this season, and Johnson has peace of mind knowing they will be matching up against a familiar opponent in the Frozen Four.In a press conference Monday, Johnson acknowledged how playing the Gophers has historically been tough.“Generally they’re pretty close games, they’re overtime games, you know, they’re end-to-end action,” Johnson said. “And for the people that show up, to get a chance to watch it on the stream line, similar to the previous five games this year — it will be entertaining.”Johnson remarked on his veteran team, noting that they have been in this position before.Larson: Badgers’ victory showcased complete team effort, what is needed to reach NCAA finalHad you walked into LaBahn Arena this weekend and not known that it was the NCAA Quarterfinal game, you would’ve Read…With only three freshmen, playing a familiar opponent always helps with the confidence of the team. However, when game time starts, it all comes down who can execute, and who will play to the strengths of their team.“You need to stay out of the penalty box and do a list of maybe four or five things,” Johnson said. “And if you’re able to check those off at the end of the game, you’ve probably given yourself a pretty good chance to win.”Johnson also reflected on two of his best players, Emily Clark and Annie Pankowski, and what they’ve done beyond the success of the program. Clark has been chosen to help defend Team Canada’s title in the World Cup of Hockey, and Pankowski has been chosen to represent Team USA.But with a national championship still the task at hand, Johnson has been very impressed with the way both Clark and Pankowski have been playing recently.“All of a sudden [Clark’s] feet are a little bit lighter, she is skating a little bit quicker,” Johnson said. “You want your big players to be good right now, and certainly both Emily and Annie have elevated themselves here as we got into the playoffs and got ourselves into a position for the game Friday night.”The Badgers will face the Gophers Friday, March 18 at 6 p.m. in Durham, New Hampshire, available on NCAA.com.last_img read more