College women's hockey preview: Wisconsin at Minnesota Duluth
No. 2 Wisconsin (26-3-1, 17-2-1) at UMD (12-13-3, 8-10-2)
What: WCHA series
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday/4:07 p.m. Saturday
Where: Amsoil Arena
Series: Wisconsin leads 44-30-13
Coaches: Mark Johnson, in his 15th season at Wisconsin, is 454-81-40; Maura Crowell, in her third season at UMD, is 52-41-9 and 75-48-13 for her career.
Wisconsin update: The league-leading Badgers come to Duluth on the verge on clinching their third straight WCHA regular-season championship and seventh overall. Two points will clinch a share of the title and three points give the Badgers the title outright. This year the WCHA regular-season championship includes an automatic pass to the WCHA Final Faceoff. The Badgers were swept on the road last week by Ohio State 1-0 and 3-1, knocking Bucky out of the top spot in the USCHO.com poll. The last time Wisconsin was swept was Feb. 19-20, 2016 at Minnesota. Sophomore goaltender Kristen Campbell continues to lead the nation in goals-against average (1.10), save percentage (.945) and shutouts (9). Senior forward Claudia Kepler has a team-high 17 goals while sophomore forward Abby Roque leads the Badgers in points with nine goals and 22 assists. The Badgers have won four straight against UMD, having swept an early December series in Madison 5-1 and 3-1.
UMD update: The Bulldogs, fourth in the WCHA, enter the final two weeks of the regular season one point ahead of fifth-place Bemidji State in the race for home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The Beavers host St. Cloud State this weekend. UMD is at Minnesota State-Mankato next week while Bemidji State travels to Ohio State. The Bulldogs are coming off an exhibition tie with the Minnesota Whitecaps on Saturday. Last week also included a 1-1 tie and shootout win Wednesday at St. Cloud State. UMD, which swept Ohio State two weeks ago, will honor its seven-member senior class after Saturday's game — which could be the Bulldogs' final home game of 2017-18 if they can't hold off the Beavers. Six of the seven members — forwards Katerina Mrazova and Lynn Astrup and defensemen Jessica Healey, Catherine Daoust, Linnea Hedin and Michelle Lowenhielm — are the last remaining Bulldogs to have played for former coach Shannon Miller. The senior class, which also includes goaltender Jessica Convery, has gone 72-53-14 at UMD.
Quote: "They are a big, physical team that is really good on the wall. I hope we don't wrap too many pucks and spend a lot of time on the wall. It's going to take a good team effort, but I think our players are very excited for the challenge." — Crowell