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Injuries create chances for underclassmen to shine

first_imgTeams in any sport would agree the one thing they could do without is the plague of injuries. That plague may be one answer to explain the struggles of the Wisconsin women’s hockey team.Injury woes resurfaced for the Badgers in their frustrating series split with St. Cloud State this past weekend.Senior forward Kyla Sanders was sidelined for both games, while sophomore forward Brooke Ammerman was briefly sidelined during the series’ first game.Despite the issues the Badgers have been experiencing in that regard, the rest of the roster has answered the call as best they can when a teammate has been absent.Injuries have not been the only reason for the season-long roster shuffling. Sophomore forward Carolyn Prevost missed the series against North Dakota two weeks ago as she was playing for Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team in Germany.She was joined by junior Mallory Deluce who missed the North Dakota series as well as the following series against Minnesota-Duluth.Interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser has cited the constant roster rearranging as the cause for some of the struggles the team has experienced all season, such as taking full advantage of scoring opportunities, which the team had trouble doing Saturday.“I think part of it is because all year we haven’t had consistent lines because, if you noticed today, we had one person [Sanders] out to start, another person [Ammerman] left after the second period, all forwards,” she said. “We’re just riddled with injuries and it’s hard to develop chemistry with your lines when it’s ever-changing.”The most easily recognizable result from all of the roster movements is junior Geena Prough, who plays forward as well as defender for Wisconsin. She registered a goal in Saturday’s win and showed her versatility by playing in multiple spots.“She’s played center, she’s played wing, she’s played defense, she’s at the point on the power play, she’s on penalty kill,” DeKeyser said of Prough. “She’s been a great asset to our program.”DeKeyser also acknowledged that even though players like Prough have filled in spots comfortably, players missing from the ice have at times made the team stretch itself a little too thin.Nevertheless, several younger Badgers also have stepped up in light of the roster adjustments.The Badgers have struggled to put rebounds in the back of the net, but those concerns turned out to be a non-issue in Friday’s 5-3 win, in which Prevost put back three goals for a hat trick.“I’ve been on the other side where you do all the work and then the other player just puts it in the open net,” Prevost said. “Pretty much what happened was my right wingers were making amazing plays and then the goalie was coming out with a big save and then I just happened to be in the right spot.”Offensive involvement overall is widely influenced by underclassmen as well. Two of the three goals and all five assists were tallied by underclassmen in Saturday’s 4-3 loss.Although St. Cloud’s high-scoring forwards got the best of Wisconsin in Saturday’s game, DeKeyser noted that freshman defender Saige Pacholok, who also added two assists in Saturday’s game, has upped her play as well.“Saige did a great job of getting in the right position to break down the two-on-one or just getting in front of the passes and blocking those passing lanes, so I give her credit,” DeKeyser said. “She has some great bounces going her way and I think that’s a function of just working hard out there.”The Badgers have eight games remaining in the final season to smooth things out for a playoff run. Should the injuries persist, Prough believes compensation will be found among the eager and primed younger players.“We have a lot of young girls and they’ve been thrown in the fire early and they’ve embraced that with open arms,” Prough said. “They’re just ready to work hard and play hard — and it’s really helping us.”last_img read more