Badgers counting on dynamic duo

first_imgIt is no mystery that any championship-caliber hockey team will go only as far as its goalie can take it. Nikolai Khabibulin carried the Tampa Bay Lighting through their magical Stanley Cup victory in 2004. Without Jim Craig, there would have been no miracle for the United States in 1980.The same holds true for the No. 3-ranked Wisconsin women’s hockey team, who entered the 2005-06 season with many options at the goaltender position. Returning to the Badgers were junior Christine Dufour and senior Meghan Horras. While redshirt freshman Jessie Vetter was supposed to make contributions this year, she will be out for the majority of the season after catching mononucleosis a number of weeks ago. Vetter’s sickness left the tandem of Dufour and Horras between the pipes, and they have not disappointed.The two have split time nearly equally this year and have posted a combined goals-against average of 1.42 and have a .918 cumulative save percentage. While Horras remains undefeated in goal this season, the two are nearly equal in all major statistical categories.”The goaltending has been very good,” head coach Mark Johnson said. “We had a little setback with Jess [Vetter] catching mono, and I know she was looking forward to playing this year, but you bring two quality goaltenders back that had good years last year. The progress has been good and I’m very happy with it.”Dufour, who hails from Quebec, is 2-1 on the year and is second on UW’s all-time goalie records for GAA and save percentage. Dufour has been making contributions since her freshman year and has a career record of 22-5-1; six of those wins were shutouts.”We’ve both been playing good in goal this season, but we haven’t been getting a lot of shots on goal because of how good the defense has been,” Dufour said. “We just need to keep doing our job.”Horras has posted a goals-against-average of under 2.00 her whole career and holds the UW record for shutouts (with nine) and for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal (243:50). This season Horras is undefeated in her four starts, including shutouts against Vermont and WCHA rival North Dakota.While both goalies are supportive of one another and take pride in each other’s successes, each would love to win the starting job outright and play every minute of every game.”I think we’re all OK with it, we know we’re going to split time and we accept that, but I think it’s still very competitive between the two of us,” Dufour said. “It’s not going to show on the ice, but secretly we both want the job.”Horras, who says there is a close friendship between all of the team’s goalies, has accepted sharing the goaltending duties but also remains intent on becoming the starter.”I always want to play as much as possible. I think of every practice as a competition to see who can play best every day,” Horras said. “Of course I want play every game, but Coach Johnson thinks it’s best for the team if we split, and I’m OK with that because I think she [Dufour] does a nice job.”On a talented offensive hockey team like the Badgers, the strong efforts by the defensemen and goalies may sometimes be overlooked. However, both the team’s coaches and players recognize how valuable their goaltending tandem has been to the team’s success this season. While the goaltending has been great this far, make no mistake about it — the quality play in net will have to continue in order for this highly talented hockey team to achieve their ultimate goal: an NCAA Championship.Both Horras and Dufour will see action this weekend when the Badgers take on WCHA counterpart St. Cloud State (2-4-0) at the Kohl Center.last_img read more