Early goals cause for concern

first_imgAlthough the No. 2 Wisconsin women’s hockey team (8-1-1, 4-1-1 WCHA) won both of its games this weekend, there was an unsettling theme to both games that could hurt the Badgers later in the season if they do not correct it. In both games, Minnesota State scored early in the first period and forced Wisconsin to play from behind, before Wisconsin eventually took control and won the game.”Well, last night (Friday) the first goal they scored we probably just weren’t ready for,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “The second goal was during a five-on-three, and tonight in the second period the puck goes off our shin pad or something redirected it. “It is not like we are giving up pretty goals, but bottom line is you don’t want to get scored on in the first minutes of a period or the last minutes of a period. We talked about that, and those are things we need to be aware of, and we need to make stops so it doesn’t happen.”This weekend, all four goals the Badgers gave up came in the first three minutes of their respective periods. Three goals came in the first 31 seconds.”We are actually trying to figure out why that is happening,” senior captain Emily Morris said. “In tight games, it is not going to be good for us to come out to a slow start. That is something we are trying to correct right now.”The Badgers lone loss this season was against St. Cloud State, when St. Cloud State’s Meaghan Pezon scored an early goal 3:35 into the first period. That goal proved to be the difference, as the Badgers lost the game 2-1.One reason the Badgers may struggle with giving up early goals could be the youth of the team. The Badgers start three freshmen in Mallory Deluce, Hilary Knight and Anne Dronen. Of the six defensemen on the team, three are freshmen. While these players are very talented and have enjoyed plenty of success this season, their inexperience could lead to early mistakes that result in giving up goals. “You got young people back there,” Johnson said. “It is a good learning opportunity for everyone involved. It is an opportunity for the players to see what can happen if you don’t move the puck, and from a coaching standpoint it points out some of the things that we want them to get better at.”Another theory for why the Badgers have given up some early goals is their defending national championship status. The Badgers have won the last two national championships, a fact that insures every opponent is going to give the Badgers their best each night. “We have targets on our backs,” junior defenseman Alycia Matthews said. “We have to go out there and grind it out and compete every game.””The target doesn’t go off until there is a new champion,” Johnson added. “Whether we are playing Duluth, Minnesota, or Minnesota State, they want to beat us. They want to beat the defending champs. That is going to be there all year. The most important thing, and I think we have done it the first five or six weeks, is that we get better.”Some valuable experience is gained from having to play from behind and coming back to win the game though. The Badgers were down a goal at three separate times this weekend and still managed to win both of their games 4-2. These experiences could be very important later in the season if the Badgers are down a goal more important games.last_img