The Badger women had their first practice of the season on Saturday and their first game on Monday.
The game, an exhibition against the Japanese National Team, provided a unique opportunity for the Badgers to jump right into game situations. The game ended 3-0 in favor of the Badgers, but as it was an exhibition and a learning tool for both teams, they played an overtime period and did a shootout round to end the game. Neither team scored during the shootout and Japan won the shootout 2-0 - though it should be noted that freshman Ann-Renée Desbiens had replaced senior Alex Rigsby in goal at that time.
The notes from UWBadgers.com say that the Badgers showed "strong offense," which is music to the ears of any fan following this team after they struggled to put together much in the way of offense last year. The team possessed the puck on Japan's end and ended the game with 53 shots and a goal in each period.
Rigsby and Desbiens split time in the net equally, switching out midway through the second period. Rigsby ended with 12 saves and Desbiens had 16.
Now the Badgers settle in to train for the official opening of their season, when they face Minnesota State at LaBahn on October 4 and 5.
Team Japan, who is training in America during the month of September, is coached by former Badger Carla MacLeod. The team knew they qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi back in August - they were the first members of Team Japan to qualify in any sport - which has helped the team become popular at home and gain sponsorship help, according to this article.
If women's hockey is going to continue to grow internationally, teams like Japan need to continue to be competitive and relevant. While we love the rivalry between USA and Canada here, if it's only ever a two-team sport, it will not last at the Olympics or survive on an international scale.