(With additional reporting by Nicole Haase)
After a one year hiatus, the Wisconsin women's hockey team is back in the NCAA tournament. It was announced on Sunday night that the Badgers received the No. 4 overall seed, which earns UW a home game in the first round of the tournament.
Wisconsin (27-7-2) will host Harvard next Saturday, March 15, at 7:00 p.m. CT at LaBahn Arena. Tickets for the quarterfinal game go on sale Monday, March 10 at 8:30 a.m CT.
"I think the exciting part is we get to host a quarterfinal game," UW head coach Mark Johnson said. "The body of work we had during the season put us in a position to host a game, and to me that's the most exciting part. We've hosted in the past, and we've had success."
The Crimson is led by goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer, who was a top-10 finalist for the 2014 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, along with UW forward Brittany Ammerman. Maschmeyer ranks fifth in the nation in save percentage with a .942 clip.
The situation with Maschmeyer is interesting, so say the least. She appeared to be benched almost immediately after being named to the Patty Kaz list. She was the losing goalie in the first game of a best of three series against Yale in the ECAC Quarterfinals. Backup Brianna Laing started (and won) the next to games. Maschmeyer was back in net for the Crimson's loss to Cornell in the ECAC semi-final this past Saturday. It doesn't seem clear that she will start the game against Wisconsin.
They will also likely be without their top offensive threat, Mary Parker, who is out with a concussion. It is possible Parker will return, but the concussion isn't her first and with a history, it's likely the medical staff with be even more cautious. Harvard tends to play a short bench (something you saw employed by their coach Katey Stone in the Olympics) and without Parker, they are even shorter, skating just nine forwards. That lack of a fourth line is something Wisconsin will look to exploit.
Harvard has the sixth-ranked defense in the country and the fourth-best penalty kill, both things that should be of concern to Badger fans. Wisconsin has struggled to find the back of the net as the season has wound-down and a stingy defense will obviously make that more difficult. Special teams have been a huge part of Wisconsin's offense this year, so playing a good penalty kill might keep them in check.
The teams have faced two common opponents this season - Boston University and Northeastern. Wisconsin beat Northeastern 3-2 in Vail in the lone game they played. Harvard split the two games they played against Northeastern, winning 3-2 and losing 4-2. In that same Vail trip Wisconsin handled Boston University 5-0. Harvard also beat BU twice, winning 3-1 and 3-2.
The Badgers finished second in the WCHA this season behind top-seeded Minnesota. If Wisconsin is to advance to the Frozen Four in Hamden, Conn., UW will likely face the Gophers, who have defeated the Badgers in all four games they've played this season.
Wisconsin holds a 4-1 all-time record against Harvard, with the lone loss coming during the program's inaugural season in 1999.
The Badgers have faced the Crimson twice in the NCAA tournament, winning both times. Wisconsin defeated Harvard, 1-0, in a four-overtime thriller at the Kohl Center on March 10, 2007 with Jinelle Zaugg playing hero. UW also defeated Harvard the following season in 2008, this time by a score of 4-1.
This link will take you to highlights of that whole season and the game-winning goal is at about the 7:40 mark.
Interesting to note that the defender Zaugg beats is none other than 4-time Olympian Julie Chu. (h/t to USCHO poster Nowheresville for the link)
Zaugg-Siergiej tweeted a picture of the game-winning goal
@BadgerWHockey this is how I remember that goal.A beautiful pass from Sara Bauer and a one timer 2 remember forever! pic.twitter.com/jRLgU5CWsi— Jinelle Siergiej (@jinellelynn) March 10, 2014
The Badger women's hockey Twitter feed had a great picture from just after the goal was scored
Remember this goal that @jinellelynn scored against Harvard in the 4-OT thriller back in 2007? #Badgers pic.twitter.com/TTXf473zkz— Badger Womens Hockey (@BadgerWHockey) March 9, 2014
Here's the full bracket