After a late season nonconference series, the Wisconsin women’s hockey team heads on the road to face struggling Minnesota State, who still has yet to record a conference win.Badgers’ freshman forward Annie Pankowski, who notched her second career hat trick this past weekend against Clarkson, will face the team that gave her the first one. Pankowski led the Badgers (19-4-3 overall, 14-4-2 WCHA) with four goals in the previous series against the Mavericks in mid-November.The Badgers outscored Minnesota State (2-21-1, 0-17-1) 16-2 in their last series at LaBahn Arena and want to continue to improve down the final stretch.“Now you have eight games left, and the main thing is to maintain what you’ve done the past three weeks and try to make some improvements in some areas where you need to improve and get yourselves ready for the playoffs,” Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson said.Despite Minnesota State having a difficult season, Wisconsin cannot take them lightly.“I think if we start to worry about the opponent and what they are doing, or worrying about individual play, that could throw us off,” sophomore Sydney McKibbon said. “But if we stick to our game, we will be fine.”The familiarity of playing a conference opponent again helps the Badgers come out confident and strong.“We obviously know them better because we played them before and we know their style,” freshman Maddie Rolfes said. “We know what to expect, so we can go in harder and not timid because we know how they play.”A winless conference season thus far could make the Mavericks come out fired-up for the third-ranked Badgers, but Wisconsin will try not to let an upset-minded team throw them off.“Focusing on ourselves and looking at them as if we are playing Minnesota or Clarkson, or anyone else,” McKibbon said. “They are no different and we have to come out ready to play Friday night.”This last stretch of games, no matter who the opponent, will be vital in getting the Badgers prepared for a potential playoff run. For Wisconsin the goal is to win all of the games, but the most important aspect is improving in all areas to make a complete team.The puck drops at 7 p.m. Friday night for the series opener in Mankato, and 3 p.m. Saturday to close out the series.
1 As part of our build up to the new year, we reveal the most popular content on talkSPORT.com for every month of 2014. Here, we look at July…BEST OF TALKSPORT.COM: JULY 2014MOST VIEWED STORY: Wenger responds to Mourinho mind gamesThe war of words between old foes Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho got slightly heated during July, when the Arsenal boss accused his adversary of stretching the truth over Cesc Fabregas’ transfer to Chelsea.See the story here: http://talksport.com/football/wenger-responds-mourinho-mind-games-i-dont-know-whos-telling-truth-about-fabregas-moveMOST POPULAR INTERVIEW: Arsenal will miss out on top four spot next season – Owen tells talkSPORTIf social media reactions are anything to go by, then Michael Owen frequently gets the raw end from football fans, but it looks as though his thoughts on Arsenal’s season could turn out to be true. The former Liverpool striker told talkSPORT in July the Gunners would miss out on the top four, despite signing a raft of new players, commenting that the club remain ‘a step behind’ their Premier League rivals.Listen to the interview here: http://talksport.com/football/exclusive-arsenal-will-miss-out-top-four-spot-next-season-claims-owen-140715101854MOST POPULAR FEATURE: Leaked images! Are these Man United’s new home and away kits?As the summer unfolded, images started to leak as to what Premier League clubs would be wearing during the new campaign. One of the most popular kit ‘reveals’ was Manchester United’s proposed home and away designs.See the images here: http://talksport.com/football/leaked-images-are-these-man-uniteds-new-home-and-away-kits-14070199361TALKSPORT’S PICK OF JULY 2014: Picture: Marquee arrival at AnfieldThe loss of Luis Suarez appeared to hit Liverpool fans pretty hard, and with Kopites desperate for a marquee arrival, talkSPORT were quickly on hand to provide them with one in the shape of this wonderful image. It wasn’t much better over at Southampton either, as club legend Mick Channon appeared on talkSPORT to slam Calum Chambers’ decision to leave Saints for Arsenal. Channon accused the defender of lacking ambition.See the Liverpool story here: http://talksport.com/football/picture-marquee-arrival-anfield-140714101638CLICK HERE TO SEE THE BEST OF JANUARYCLICK HERE TO SEE THE BEST OF FEBRUARYCLICK HERE TO SEE THE BEST OF MARCHCLICK HERE TO SEE THE BEST OF APRILCLICK HERE TO SEE THE BEST OF MAYCLICK HERE TO SEE THE BEST OF JUNE Arsene Wenger hit back at Jose Mourinho