Casey O'Brien's scorching start to the season continued Saturday.
The University of Wisconsin sophomore center scored four times, including the first three of the game as the top-ranked Badgers rolled to a 10-0 victory against Lindenwood in Maryland Heights, Missouri.
O'Brien scored twice in the Badgers' 8-1 season-opening victory Friday. She scored only twice in 20 games as a freshman.
The Badgers (2-0) outshot the Lions 52-14 and never looked back after O'Brien put them ahead just 2:17 into the first period.
Katie Kotlowski scored twice for UW. Fifteen of 18 skaters recorded at least a point as the Badgers defeated Lindenwood (0-2) for the 19th straight time.
First period: W — O'Brien 3 (Toft, Watts), 2:17; O'Brien 4 (Bowlby, LaMantia), 16:05. Penalties: Schneider, W, 2:54; Schneider, W, 12:46; Kotlowski, W, 13:27.
Second period: W — O'Brien 5 (LaMantia, Webster), :40; Kotlowski 2 (S. Shirley, Bowlby), :52; Pettet 2 (S. Shirley, Schneider), 3:48; Kotlowski 3 (Wozniewicz), 8:48 (pp); S. Shirley 1 (Pettet, LaMantia), 9:47 (sh); Posick 1 (Webster, Nealey), 11:01 (sh). Penalties: Stitt, L, 7:41; Wheeler, W, 9:33; G. Shirley, W, 12:35; Adimey, L, 13:35.
Third period: O'Brien 6 (Posick), 3:19; Webster 2 (Edwards, Picard), 16:51. Penalties: Takenka, L, 8:32.
Saves: W (Kronish 5-5-x, Gervais x-x-4) 14; L (Ferenc 12-13-x, Maguire x-7-10) 42. Power plays: W 1-for-2; L 0-for-5. Att. — 155.
Badgers by position: Learn more about the 2021-22 Wisconsin women's hockey team
|8||Makenna Webster||So.||5-2||St. Louis|
|9||Sophie Shirley||Sr.||5-9||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan|
|12||Grace Shirley||Jr.||5-7||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan|
|15||Caitlin Schneider||5th-Sr.||5-4||Glenview, Illinois|
|18||Marianne Picard||Fr.||5-6||Repentigny, Quebec|
|20||Brette Pettet||5th-Sr.||5-3||Kentville, Nova Scotia|
|23||Sarah Wozniewicz||Fr.||5-7||Cochrane, Alberta|
|26||Casey O'Brien||So.||5-4||Milton, Massachusetts|
|28||Maddi Wheeler||So.||5-4||Erinsville, Ontario|
The Badgers have the potential to form the most potent line in the country with left wing Daryl Watts, center Brette Pettet and right wing Sophie Shirley. They combined to score 42 of the team's 79 goals last season, including an NCAA-best 19 by Watts. But it's also worth considering that UW might be able to better fill its offensive depth by spreading them over the top two lines like the team did last postseason.
Casey O'Brien has the makings of a top-six center and the Badgers need it because that's not a position with a large amount of depth. Makenna Webster was the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player last season after she scored in both the semifinal and championship games. O'Brien, Webster and Maddi Wheeler got only about half of the games that freshmen normally experience in their first year, so their growth curve will continue into this season.
With Britta Curl and Lacey Eden competing for spots on the U.S. Olympic team, the Badgers will need bigger roles out of some returning players who had been used sparingly in the past and quick contributions from freshmen Marianne Picard and Sarah Wozniewicz.
Caitlin Schneider scored only twice last season after recording nine goals as a junior. The Badgers could use a boost from her and she should get the opportunity to provide it.
49% | UW's faceoff winning percentage in 2020-21, ranking 17th of 30 NCAA teams. The Badgers were first at 60.5% in 2019-20.
|3||Sophie Helgeson||Fr.||5-6||Roseau, Minnesota|
|13||Grace Bowlby||5th-Sr.||5-8||Edina, Minnesota|
|14||Mayson Toft||So.||5-8||Lowry, Minnesota|
|21||Nicole LaMantia||Sr.||5-4||Wayne, Illinois|
|24||Katie Kotlowski||R-So.||5-10||Warroad, Minnesota|
The Badgers will feel the loss of Natalie Buchbinder, who was selected for the U.S. Olympic residency process, but the entrance of Kendra Nealey via transfer from Cornell should help provide some cover. Nealey didn't play last season because the Ivy League canceled the schedule during the pandemic. She'll be able to take advantage of a less strenuous beginning for UW, which isn't set to face a ranked team until playing at Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 15 and 17, to get back up to speed.
Grace Bowlby led NCAA defenders with 18 assists last season and was UW's first first-team All-American at the position since Meaghan Mikkelson in 2007. Bowlby played in all 136 games over her first four seasons with the team. Nicole LaMantia was just as dependable in her first three campaigns, going 98 for 98. Chayla Edwards gives the Badgers a stable presence in the defensive zone and a willingness to block shots.
UW traditionally is stingy on defense stemming from good puck control and movement in its zone. This season shouldn't be much different in those areas.
Katie Kotlowski had a quietly effective redshirt freshman season in 2020-21 playing alongside Bowlby. Even if her defensive partner gets most of the accolades, Kotlowski's contributions won't go unnoticed for long.
3 | Goals scored last season by Badgers defenders. Two were by LaMantia, one by Buchbinder.
|1||Jane Gervais||R-Fr.||5-8||Valcourt, Quebec|
|29||Kennedy Blair||5th-Sr.||5-7||Bismarck, North Dakota|
|30||Cami Kronish||R-Jr.||6-0||New York|
The Badgers have been reliant on transfers in goal for the last half decade, and this season is shaping up to be no different. Kennedy Blair is entering her sixth year of college at her third school. She started at North Dakota but the school ended its women's hockey program after her redshirt year in 2016-17. She then played three years at Mercyhurst before backstopping the Badgers' NCAA championship last season.
Goalies originally recruited by UW have started only five of the team's 136 games in the last four seasons, since Kristen Campbell arrived after North Dakota's shutdown. Transfer movement has kept the Badgers strong at a position that has produced two Patty Kazmaier Award winners and four All-Americans for UW in the last 15 years.
Blair's .935 save percentage last season was a career best but good for only 13th nationally. That's a top 10 stat in most seasons but the shortened 2020-21 campaign featured less scoring on average.
Jane Gervais' development will be an item to monitor. She redshirted last season after arriving from the powerhouse Stanstead College prep team in Quebec.
24.52 | Average shots on goal per game faced by Badgers goalies last season. It was the first time since the 2013-14 season that the number was above 20.