For women’s hockey, shoot, score, repeat

first_imgIn the first period of Saturday night’s game against conference rival Ohio State, an errant puck coming from the Buckeye’s defensive zone found its way to the stick of Wisconsin team captain Meghan Duggan. And as head Coach Mark Johnson has instructed her and the rest of her teammates, Duggan wound up and fired.“I don’t know if it deflected off a stick or a skate or whatever, but the puck was kind of bouncing and I figured I’d just throw it on net. Coach always says good things happen when you throw the puck on the net so that’s all I did and it went in,” Duggan said.Early on in this season the Badgers have drowned opposing goaltenders with all types of shots on goal and with a 6-0 record after this weekend’s sweep of Ohio State, the strategy seems to work.In the two games this past weekend the Badgers outshot the Buckeyes 98-40 and two weeks ago Wisconsin outshot Bemidji State 79-22. According to Johnson, there is a method behind the madness, as simple as it may sound.“One thing I’ve always told the players and the teams that I’ve coached is that you’re not going to score unless you shoot,” Johnson said.The success of Johnson’s philosophy shone throughout this past weekend’s games. With a stubborn goaltender between the pipes for Ohio State, the Badgers knew that putting one past her would prove difficult.When shots from the deep slot didn’t get through, the Badger’s resorted to crashing the net and putting bodies in front of Buckeye net minder to create pressure.“She made some great saves but as I told the team, if you keep coming and you keep creating those opportunities, eventually things are going to go in your favor,” Johnson said.The Badgers’ persistence led to eleven goals this weekend against a squad who gave up only four total in their previous four games. However, Ohio State has likely not experienced an offensive attack such as the one Wisconsin possesses.“Coach said, ‘just keep shooting.’ You’re going to get your chances and its going to go in, so we just had to keep going at them,” sophomore center Brianna Decker said. Decker recorded a hat trick in Friday night’s game.However, the other number that jumps out from the stat sheet this weekend is the save percentage for Wisconsin’s two goaltenders. Over the two games the freshman Alex Rigsby and sophomore Becca Ruegsegger had a combined save percentage of 82 percent.With the talent that the Badgers will come across throughout the course of the year, to have success, the young net minders must put up better numbers no matter how few or how many shots they see during a game.“You sit down there and watch for a long period of time and then all of sudden here comes (OSU forward) Natalie Spooner and boom, here comes a quality shot from a great player. It’s hard to do that. You’ve got to stay focused,” Johnson said.The Badgers don’t believe the fact that they don’t allow many shots is a problem.“I definitely have full trust and faith in our goalies and that’s one of the most important things,” junior winger Hilary Knight said.Although Johnson and the Badgers know that limiting the opposing team’s scoring opportunities is important, the goaltender must stay on task. In past years the Badgers have experienced a similar trend.“You’ve got to stay focused. It’s no different from when Jessie [Vetter] was here, it was the same type of thing. You might out shoot a team 45-14 but those 14 are important,” Johnson said.The bottom line for the Badgers is that they are winning games. If they continue to barrage opposing teams with the puck, stick with it on rebounds and continue to create second chances they are going to score a lot of goals. And at that point it won’t matter what the save percentage is.last_img read more