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Depth key to Badgers’ success

September 17, 2020

first_imgAs it often happens in sports reporting — and journalism in general — there is the tendency to write too much about some things while not devoting enough time to others. Just look at professional sports coverage: You hear about baseball, basketball and football all the time, but you hear very little about hockey.The same thing goes for players, those who get lots of attention and those who get next to none. The same principle can be found in the Wisconsin women’s hockey team.The big names on the team get plenty of attention, and it’s well deserved. They’re the one’s who make the headlines, rack up points and get their names tossed around for various awards.There’s senior forward Sara Bauer, who has amassed 62 points this season and is one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the best player in the nation. Yes, she won it last season, and if she receives it again she will become the only player to win the award in consecutive years. She gets all the attention she needs, despite her dislike for being in the spotlight.There are plenty of others who get plenty of attention: freshman Meghan Duggan, recently named to the All-WCHA second team and rookie team, has recorded 47 points this season; Jinelle Zaugg, a prolific goal scorer and Meaghan Mikkelson, one of the top ten contenders for the Kazmaier Award.Duggan gets plenty of attention, but the freshman class has more than just one player. Although some players don’t receive a ton of attention, they still make substantial contributions to the team.”The freshmen have stepped up and have really played their role well this year,” team captain Bobbi-Jo Slusar said. “I think that’s really crucial to our success. Everybody has got to play their role and be on the same page.”The freshman class has certainly pulled its weight this season. Duggan is tied for fourth in the conference in points, while Kyla Sanders has quietly recorded 19 points (12G, 7A), playing most of the season alongside Bauer and Zaugg.Sanders, who didn’t start playing hockey until age 11, is a natural goal-scorer despite coming from the non-hockey-hotspot of Florida. In the span of two years, she recorded 75 goals and 58 assists.Jasmine Giles has collected 15 points (7G, 8A) this season, playing with sophomores Angie Keseley and Erika Lawler. Giles, a native of Ottawa, Ontario, was named her high school MVP for all four years.Emily Kranz, a native of Waukesha, has scored 10 points (5G, 5A), the fewest points among freshmen, and believes the key to her class’ success has been their ability to form a cohesive unit.”As a freshman class, I think we’ve really earned our spots on the team and proven ourselves,” Kranz said. “We’ve meshed pretty well as a freshman class. … We just keep working hard.””They all bring really important things — I think they’re really strong freshmen,” Slusar said. “They just have great attitudes, they’re always positive and they know their role. … On and off the ice, they’re a huge part of this team, and they’ve really stepped in well.”Relatively anonymous players such as Sanders, Giles and Kranz can have a huge impact if they perform at the right time. It happened last season during the playoffs when sophomore goaltender Jessie Vetter, then the team’s third goalie, stole the show and became a brick wall taking the team to a national championship.The same phenomenon has already happened this season, with sophomore defender Rachel Bible coming up big in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Bible, who recorded just one goal and two assists her freshman year, had been relatively quiet this season until the first round against North Dakota. In that series she scored a crucial goal and added an assist for the first multi-point game of her career. She followed that up with Wisconsin’s final goal this past weekend against Minnesota in the conference championship game.The freshmen are perfectly capable of doing the same. Kranz was crucial in the game against Minnesota, tallying the game-winning goal.”It’s nice to see — Jessie [Vetter stepped up] last year and Kranz has stepped up and Meghan Duggan has stepped up; all of the freshmen have stepped up, and that’s exactly what we need,” Slusar said. “It’s going to be important for this next coming game.”last_img

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