10 reasons why Wisconsin leads the way
by Lucas Aykroyd|05 JUN 2022
The U.S.'s Hilary Knight (left) and Brianna Decker (right) are just two of the women's hockey legends who have built the University of Wisconsin's reputation.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
If you believe in the powerful influence of a winning environment, then players at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship will come away with some serious good vibrations.

The University of Wisconsin stepped up to serve as a host venue for this tournament on three months’ notice, bringing it to the U.S. for just the third time ever. Yet beyond its mastery of off-ice logistics, the Madison-based institution offers an inspiring story of on-ice success. It is truly a women’s hockey mecca, producing some of the most legendary Olympic and Women’s Worlds heroines of all time.

Here are 10 reasons why Wisconsin leads the way.

1) The University of Wisconsin has won six Women’s Frozen Four titles, tied with the University of Minnesota for the most in American history. All six have come under head coach Mark Johnson, a legendary hero of the 1980 U.S. “Miracle on Ice” Olympic gold medal team.

2) For Hilary Knight, the 2021 Women’s Worlds didn’t yield the sixth straight gold medal she was seeking, but the all-time leading scorer in Badgers history (262 points) did rewrite the IIHF record books in Calgary in August. Knight’s 47 career Women’s Worlds goals are now tops all-time, and her 80 career points lead all U.S. women.

3) Badgers legend Brianna Decker, although slowed by injuries at recent tournaments, remains the active Women’s Worlds points-per-game leader (68 points in 44 games = 1.55 PPG). In second place? Hilary Knight (1.36 PPG).

4) Sarah Nurse set a new single-Olympic points record (18) at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing with Canada’s gold-medal juggernaut, surpassing Hayley Wickenheiser’s 2006 record (17). Nurse also made UW proud by cracking the tournament all-star team.

5) The two goalies who faced each other in the 2022 Olympic final are also 1-2 in Badgers goaltending history by several metrics. The U.S.’s Alex Cavallini (nee Cavallini) is first in all-time UW goalie games (133) and wins (100). Canada’s Ann-Renee Desbiens is second in games (122) and wins (99). However, Desbiens, who got bragging rights with a 3-2 win in the gold medal game, has a large edge in shutouts (55), compared to second-place Jessie Vetter (39) and third-place Cavallini (30).

6) Since the Patty Kazmaier Award was inaugurated in 1998, only four goaltenders have been honoured as the top player in U.S. women’s college hockey. Two of them were Badgers: Jessie Vetter (2009) and Ann-Renee Desbiens (2017).

7) In total, only Harvard has produced more Patty Kazmaier Award winners (6) than Wisconsin (5). However, the Boston-area university’s last winner was in 2008: Canadian Olympic gold medalist Sarah Vaillancourt. Besides the aforementioned goalies, Wisconsin’s winners include Sara Bauer (2006), Meghan Duggan (2011), and Brianna Decker (2012).

8) Meghan Duggan’s resume goes beyond captaining the 2018 U.S. Olympic team to gold, winning seven Women’s Worlds, and sitting third in all-time Badgers scoring (238 points). Professionally, the 34-year-old is doing double duty this year as the director of player development for the New Jersey Devils and the president of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

9) Wondering what became of the last Canadian to score a U18 Women’s Worlds-winning goal? Look no further than UW, where forward Maddi Wheeler is heading into her third season with the Badgers. On 13 January, 2019, the native of Erinsville, Ontario scored a power play goal at 1:34 of overtime to lift Canada to a 3-2 gold-medal victory over the Americans in Obihiro, Japan.

10) LaBahn Arena, the site of 12 games during the 2022 U18 Women’s Worlds, is nearing its 10th anniversary as a premier hockey facility. The 2,273-capacity arena on the UW campus was dedicated on 19 October, 2012. The rink measures 200 feet by 90 feet (60 metres by 27 metres). Amenities for women’s hockey include a player lounge with leather couches and TVs, a theater-style film room, therapy pools, and an on-site doctor’s office and athletic training room.