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UND WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Bring on the champs

The opponent will be defending national champion Wisconsin, a team that the UND women haven't beaten in the last eight attempts. And UND will enter the series without enough players to fill out a full lineup. Head coach Brian Idalski doesn't care...

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The opponent will be defending national champion Wisconsin, a team that the UND women haven't beaten in the last eight attempts.

And UND will enter the series without enough players to fill out a full lineup.

Head coach Brian Idalski doesn't care.

"Everyone is banged up this time of year," Idalski said. "That's not something we'll talk about. Quite frankly, that's an excuse that championship teams never use. We've got to find a way. Kids have to step up. It's an opportunity for someone else. We'll play the games."

The series, featuring No. 6 UND and No. 2 Wisconsin, will be played at 2:07 p.m. Saturday and 2:07 p.m. Sunday in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

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UND will be without defensemen Jordan Slavin and Candace Molle, meaning that Monique Lamoureux-Kolls will likely play both forward and defenseman during the game. Sara Dagenais also may miss the games up front.

"It may change the way you prepare for the game," Idalski said. "If someone needs a rest, if someone gets banged up and has to miss a shift or two, how do you fill in and where do you plug things? How do you space out your special teams and make a concerted effort to make sure kids aren't running 1:20 on the power play, then going out for a kill for an extended time?"

Wisconsin enters the series after a winless weekend against Minnesota. The Badgers tied and lost to the Gophers, marking the first time that Wisconsin did not win a game in a weekend since February 2010, when its star players were at the Olympic Games.

The 19-2-1 Badgers feature the nation's leading scorer in Brianna Decker (50 points) and the nation's leader in save percentage in Alex Rigsby (.949). Olympian Hilary Knight (23 goals) and seniors Brittany Ammerman (45 points) and Carolyne Prevost (29 points) also head up the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's most potent offense.

"They've been the epitome of what college hockey teams should be the last few years," Idalski said. "They win the games that they're supposed to win. They are very composed. They don't get rattled when adversity strikes. They have a great coach, excellent goaltending, solid 'D' and they're deep up front.

"We're not shy in saying that's what we're striving to be. We're getting closer and closer. The first time we played, we felt like one got away. Like Wisconsin, we have to start finding ways to win games and have confidence that we are going to win games when it gets to crunch time. We want to be the best. Wisconsin's the best. We would play the 10-12 times if we could. Those are games we need to play."

Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to bschlossman@gfherald.com .

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