It will be a history making moment for Syracuse University Athletics Saturday when the Women’s Ice Hockey team plays in the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game.
The Orange will take on the top ranked Wisconsin Badgers at 2 p.m. Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin.
SU earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning their conference, College Hockey America, tournament in Buffalo on March 8.
It was the first ever conference tournament championship for Syracuse but the team says it is looking for more.
Allie Munroe is a senior playing defense for the Orange and says, “I don’t think we’re even talking about winning the CHA anymore and we’re preparing now for Wisconsin and we’re just ready to get down there and get things going.”
“It’s like a whole other season. Everything’s do or die obviously and you’re with the best teams in the country,” says junior forward Anonda Hoppner.
Head Coach Paul Flanagan adds, “We don’t want to just be satisfied with going out there and it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere, the game sold out in 20 minutes and I think for us we’ve got to get a focus. We didn’t play well when we were out there in early December.”
The Orange played two games against the Badgers on that trip losing 6-1 and 9-1.
Munroe says, “I think we’re ready and we’re a completely different team and we’re going to relish the underdog role and really play that.”
“I think we all know we’re such a different team than we were in December, so different in terms of our confidence, in terms of our physicality,” Hoppner tells NewsChannel 9.
Hoppner knows a little something about the NCAA Tournament having played in the Championship Game for the Colgate Red Raiders last season.
“It’s awesome to be back, it’s really exciting. Yeah, I guess going through this before it’s good to know what to expect and how all this works so it’s been really good,” she says.
Flanagan says the team is playing it’s best hockey of the season right now and also has tremendous momentum coming off the CHA Tournament Championship.
“And it isn’t just, oh let’s just go out there and have fun, it’s let go out there have fun and win a hockey game,” Flanagan says.
Also part of the eight remaining teams in the NCAA Division I Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament is Cornell which travels to Boston to play Northeastern Saturday afternoon.