Injuries no concern as team looks to playoffs

first_imgLed by captain Erika Lawler, the Wisconsin women\’s hockey team is looking to avenge a second place finish in the WCHA and make some noise in the NCAA tournament.[/media-credit]Although failing to win the WCHA regular season title must be a disappointment to the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team, injuries are more at the forefront of the Badgers’ concerns.Heading into postseason play, Wisconsin hopes to have its players back in top form, including captain Erika Lawler. The senior is currently battling a shoulder injury suffered from a game against Minnesota earlier this month.However, according to head coach Mark Johnson, Lawler should be in playing shape by the time the WCHA tournament begins this weekend.“She’s been battling this for probably three weeks now,” Johnson said. “You can expect her to play Friday.”Though Lawler isn’t the only player battling injuries, Johnson feels that nagging pains are not a concern at this stretch in the season.“It comes down to having that hunger and that desire,” Johnson said. “If these kids really want to take a run at a championship, which I anticipate they want to, those type of things get put on the side.”Knight hoping to carry big numbers into playoffs Although Lawler has been recovering over the past couple weeks, she did re-aggravate the injury following a goal against Minnesota State-Mankato. In the unlikely scenario that Lawler would miss the WCHA playoffs, the Badgers would still have plenty of firepower to take on Ohio State. According to Johnson, sophomore Hilary Knight may be the best player in the country this season.“If you look at our season and watched us play, obviously Hilary sticks out,” Johnson said. “She’s had an outstanding season.”Currently, Knight leads the country in goals and is ranked second in the nation in points.Badgers face Buckeyes in first roundIn the first round, Wisconsin will face an Ohio State team it swept during the regular season. The top seed in the tournament belongs to Minnesota, a team that Wisconsin battled all year long for the top spot nationally. Although a tournament crown would provide some vindication for the Badgers, the team is focused on its first round match.“The most important thing for us is the game Friday and taking care of business,” Johnson said.In the team’s first round match against the Buckeyes, Wisconsin will be playing at the Eagle’s Nest in Verona, Wis. A smaller arena than the Kohl Center, the Eagle’s Nest represents a challenge all on its own.“Obviously it’s not our choice, but it is what it is and you have to deal with it,” Johnson said.If Wisconsin does make it to the semifinals of the tournament, they will play at the Ridder Arena in Minneapolis a week later.Regardless of where the Badgers are playing, Johnson feels the team is excited about the chance to skate for a WCHA title and NCAA championship.“A lot of the players get geared up for this two week season,” Johnson said. “Anytime if you get a chance to play for a championship, it brings the best out in people.”last_img

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