David Stluka / UW Athletics
Ann-Renée Desbiens has 408 saves this season!
The No. 1-ranked University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team captured its 500th win in program history on Feb. 3, skating all over Bemidji State, 6-1. The next night, the Badgers scored four goals in the final 35 minutes to rally past the Beavers, 4-2, for win No. 501.
To put that in perspective, UW is only the 10th program in NCAA Division I women’s hockey history to reach the 500-victory milestone — although one other Western Collegiate Hockey Association team, Minnesota, beat the Badgers to it.
Entering the penultimate weekend of the regular season, the Badgers are 21-2-1 in the WCHA and 26-2-1 overall. They’ve won 12 in a row, with the most recent loss coming way back on Dec. 3 — when Minnesota shut out UW, 2-0.
Since then, the most danger UW faced was when several players were tested for carbon monoxide poisoning after a leak at the Lindenwood Ice Arena in Wentzville, Missouri, during a game in early January. The second game of that series was canceled, for obvious reasons, and has not been rescheduled.
UW also set an NCAA record for attendance last month during a Fill the Bowl promotion at the Kohl Center, when a crowd of 15,359 showed up to watch the Badgers beat St. Cloud State, 2-0. Wisconsin now owns the top five single-game attendance marks in the NCAA women’s hockey history.
Senior goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens, who has 408 saves on the season — including 43 in the Bemidji State series — is one reason why it’s so fun to watch these Badgers. The reigning WCHA Player of the Year also recently passed two-time Olympian Jessie Vetter for second in program history in career wins, earning her 92nd career triumph in the Bemidji State series and improving to 22-1-1 this season.
Offensively, the Badgers are led by top scorers Annie Pankowski, Sarah Nurse and Emily Clark, and collectively this team has fans flashing back to the middle and late 2000s, when Wisconsin won three NCAA championships between 2006 and 2009. This year’s Frozen Four is scheduled for March 17-19 at Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri.
Wisconsin hosts No. 2 Minnesota Duluth at LaBahn Arena on Feb. 11-12 in a series critical to the Badgers’ status as they enter the WCHA Playoffs.
UW already clinched home ice for the first round, slated for Feb. 24-26 at LaBahn Arena. If you don’t already have plans, buy your tickets now. LaBahn only holds 2,273 fans, and you know this series will sell out.