Freshmen factor: Deluce, Knight lead Badgers

first_imgThe Wisconsin women’s hockey team (6-1-1, 2-1-1 WCHA) lost for the first time in 33 games Friday, but don’t pin the loss on its talented freshman class. In fact, two freshmen linemates are not only leading the Badgers in goals scored and points, but they lead the entire nation. Mallory Deluce, a freshman forward from London, Ontario, leads the nation in goals scored with eight and has been named the WCHA Rookie of the Week the past two weeks.Hilary Knight, a freshman forward from Hanover, N.H., is tied for the national lead in points with 11, and was named preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year. Knight shares the national lead in points with two other players, one of whom is Deluce.Both Deluce and Knight have already contributed in high-pressure spots this season. Saturday, coming off Wisconsin’s first loss of the season to St. Cloud State, Deluce had her first collegiate hat trick and Knight added four assists, as their line accounted for all five goals in the game.“I don’t even think about it,” Deluce said of individual marks. “We don’t worry about individual stats. All we worry about is the team, and doing the best we can every week.”While Knight is not overly excited to dissect her own game and strengths, linemate and senior alternate captain Jinelle Zaugg believes she has an accurate appraisal of the two.“Hilary is just a great, hard worker,” Zaugg said. “She practices the way she plays, which is an aspect of the game coaches are looking for. She uses her size and attacks the puck.“That is kind of the player I am, and I really admire her for it.”Deluce, on the other hand, reminds Zaugg of one of Wisconsin’s all-time greats.“Mallory is also a great player who reminds me of [Sara] Bauer,” Zaugg said. “Her patience with the puck will develop more and more each year, and she is just fun to play with. She has a finesse and great tipping ability. I mean, I don’t know how she tips some of those shots from the point, but they always seem to go in.”Comparisons to Zaugg and Bauer are high praise for a couple of freshmen, considering Zaugg was a member of the U.S. Women’s Select Team at the Women’s Four Nations Cup, and Sara Bauer is a former Patty Kazmaier Award winner and UW’s all-time leading scorer. And while neither Deluce nor Knight cares to talk about herself too much, each is eager to open up about her linemate.“She has given us a lot of confidence,” Knight said of Zaugg. “She has taught us to be patient, and we are learning spacing. We have so much to learn, and we are trying to improve every day.”“It has been a lot of fun playing with Jinelle,” Deluce added. “She is a good player; she has a great shot and passes really well. It is easy when you have a player that good with you.”Head coach Mark Johnson has been very impressed with both freshmen and is very excited about their addition to the team this season.“Mallory brings a real high skill level to the group,” Johnson said. “Obviously, playing with Hilary and Jinelle, you have some size, some strength and some scoring ability. She can do a little bit of all those things. It is nice when they (freshmen) get off to a good start, because that builds up their confidence … Hopefully, Mallory, Hilary and the other freshmen continue to make progress, and I think that they will.”Right now, Deluce and Knight are just enjoying the experience of playing hockey for the Wisconsin Badgers.“It has been amazing,” Knight said. “It is a complete step up from high school. I love it out here.”A sentiment echoed by her classmate.“You can’t even describe it,” Deluce added. “It is unbelievable. I have so much fun every day, and you want to be at the rink all the time. I have so much fun playing and hanging out with everyone.”last_img