Hold the Gatorade shower.
Put off the t-shirt and the baseball cap orders.
Refocus and get healthy.
The top-ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team (26–3–1) must delay its conference championship celebration at least one more week after being swept by sixth-ranked Ohio State (19–7–4) in Columbus this weekend. Needing only one tie to earn a share of the WCHA title and a shootout win to take the title outright, Wisconsin struggled to get into any sort of rhythm and lost 1–0 and 3–1.
The lone highlight was a goal by the much-improved Alexis Mauermann.
Here’s a look at Mauermann’s 11th of the year that gave UW a lead pic.twitter.com/9XsQsYwomb— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerWHockey) February 3, 2018
Needless to say, but Wisconsin’s road struggles are only getting worse.
The Badgers were again without junior defensewoman Mikaela Gardner. In the last three games of her absence due to injury, Wisconsin was outscored 6–4 total in these games. In context, Wisconsin has scored four or more goals in 13 games this season. Without Gardner, Wisconsin has looked sloppy and has struggled to dominate puck possessions like it normally does.
This series marked the first time OSU swept Wisconsin since Feb. 26–27, 2010. That was also an Olympic centralization year, and Wisconsin’s roster was without key contributors Erika Lawler, Jessie Vetter, Hilary Knight, and Meghan Duggan.
In more bad news, it also marks the first time Wisconsin was swept in two years, the last time at the hands of Minnesota in 2016. That series was also the last time that Wisconsin was held to only one total goal in a series.
Wisconsin will travel to Duluth for another chance at winning the conference title. Ohio State will travel to Mankato to play lowly Minnesota State, so the Badgers cannot expect OSU to falter down the stretch.
Mark Johnson’s squad will definitely want to wrap up the conference title before Minnesota visits Feb. 16–17.
Wisconsin will likely rematch with OSU during the conference championship tournament in Minneapolis March 3–4. If that happens, it’s going to be the most intense game of the season.