Wisconsin women's hockey team released its schedule for the upcoming season last week and it features a late January home series against defending champion Clarkson Jan. 23-25 at LaBahn Arena. The two teams have never faced each other. Clarkson upset Minnesota to win the title in 2014 and the Knights were the first non-WCHA team to ever win an NCAA women's hockey national championship. They did graduate Patty Kazmaier winner Jamie Lee Rattray, however.
The scheduling of both Clarkson and UNH are smart, bold steps by Wisconsin. The WCHA stranglehold on the sport has been crumbling bit by bit and Clarkson's win was possibly the final brick in dismantling the wall. Fans like to debate east vs. west, and with very little inter-mingling between the conferences, it's often been hypothetical. Minnesota has St. Lawrence and Princeton on its schedule this year. Wisconsin played both Boston University and Northeastern last year. For the WCHA -- and, really, Wisconsin and Minnesota -- to continue to tout themselves as the top teams in the country they have to broaden their schedules and continue to play and beat East Coast teams. Not only will it strengthen their overall programs, it will continue to keep them relevant in nationwide recruiting.
The schedule also features non-conference games at Lindenwood and New Hampshire. Lindenwood has been an early-season fixture in Madison for the past few seasons as the Badgers committed to helping the Lions get their program off the ground.
Wisconsin last played New Hampshire during the 2012-13 season when the Badgers swept the Wildcats, but UNH holds a 6-4-1 all-time record against UW.
The schedule is heavy on road games early on, with just two home series out of the first six. After starting at Lindenwood, the Badgers head right into WCHA play. They will face an early test at Minnesota-Duluth before coming back to Madison for back-to-back weekends against Ohio State and Minnesota. Both UMD and Ohio State will look to put UW on their heels early and steal points, and the Badgers will have to take those early games to get their skates under them before hosting rival Minnesota in just the fourth series of the season. Minnesota will be welcoming back Olympians Amanda Kessel and Lee Stecklein.
Two weeks later, the Badgers will head to North Dakota. Wisconsin took last season's series 2-1-1, but facing such a strong schedule early on in the season will certainly test the Badgers' mettle. Though NoDak graduated star Michelle Karvinen, it returns three other European national team stars. The NoDak series is Wisconsin's only one in December, which should help the team focus and then recover heading into the second half.
It doesn't get easier, though, as the Badgers open January at Minnesota before facing Bemidji and Clarkson back in Madison. The final slate includes Minnesota State, UMD, Ohio State and ending the season at home against St. Cloud State. This year's WCHA Final Five Face Off is in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Wisconsin looks to be stronger this season and shouldn't be relying so much on freshman talent -- though the incoming freshman class is impressive. The veteran presence of the team should be helpful in helping navigate the early gauntlet.
|DATE||OPPONENT / EVENT||LOCATION||TIME / RESULT|
|9/26/14||at Lindenwood||Wentzville, Mo.||TBA|
|9/27/14||at Lindenwood||Wentzville, Mo.||TBA|
|10/3/14||at Minnesota Duluth||Duluth, Minn.||TBA|
|10/4/14||at Minnesota Duluth||Duluth, Minn.||TBA|
|10/10/14||vs. Ohio State||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|10/12/14||vs. Ohio State||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|10/17/14||vs. Minnesota||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|10/18/14||vs. Minnesota||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|10/24/14||at Bemidji St||Bemidji, Minn.||TBA|
|10/25/14||at Bemidji St||Bemidji, Minn.||TBA|
|10/31/14||at North Dakota||Grand Forks, N.D.||TBA|
|11/1/14||at North Dakota||Grand Forks, N.D.||TBA|
|11/13/14||vs. Minnesota State||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|11/14/14||vs. Minnesota State||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|11/21/14||at St. Cloud State||St. Cloud, Minn.||TBA|
|11/22/14||at St. Cloud State||St. Cloud, Minn.||TBA|
|11/28/14||at New Hampshire||Durham, N.H.||TBA|
|11/29/14||at New Hampshire||Durham, N.H.||TBA|
|12/5/14||vs. North Dakota||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|12/6/14||vs. North Dakota||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|12/7/14||vs. North Dakota||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|1/10/15||at Minnesota||Minneapolis, Minn.||TBA|
|1/11/15||at Minnesota||Minneapolis, Minn.||TBA|
|1/16/15||vs. Bemidji St||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|1/17/15||vs. Bemidji St||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|1/23/15||vs. Clarkson||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|1/24/15||vs. Clarkson||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|1/25/15||vs. Clarkson||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|1/30/15||at Minnesota State||Mankato, Minn.||TBA|
|1/31/15||at Minnesota State||Mankato, Minn.||TBA|
|2/6/15||vs. Minnesota Duluth||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|2/7/15||vs. Minnesota Duluth||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|2/13/15||at Ohio State||Columbus, Ohio||TBA|
|2/14/15||at Ohio State||Columbus, Ohio||TBA|
|2/20/15||vs. St. Cloud State||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|2/21/15||vs. St. Cloud State||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|2/22/15||vs. St. Cloud State||LaBahn Arena||TBA|
|2/27/15||WCHA First Round||Top Seeds||TBA|
|2/28/15||WCHA First Round||Top Seeds||TBA|
|3/1/15||WCHA First Round||Top Seeds||TBA|
|3/6/15||WCHA Final Face-Off||Grand Forks, N.D.||TBA|
|3/7/15||WCHA Final Face-Off||Grand Forks, N.D.||TBA|
|3/20/15||NCAA Frozen Four semifinal||Minneapolis, Minn.||TBA|
|3/22/15||NCAA Frozen Four championship||Minneapolis, Minn.||TBA|