The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point women’s hockey team has a second chance this season, as the team made it into the NCAA tournament, its first appearance since 2007.
Last Saturday, the team traveled to play UW-River Falls in the inaugural Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game. The Falcons defeated the Pointers 5-1, receiving the conference automatic bid.
Monday, March 10, the Pointers received one of three at-large bids in the NCAA tournament. Head coach Ann Ninneman describes the at-large bid as a second chance and wants to take advantage of it.
“We had a great year, and it’s nice to receive a second life,” Ninneman said. “You never know losing a conference final, but we are going to take full advantage.”
Going into the conference final, the team knew it would be a close call if it would make the tournament.
“We are thankful for the luck of the draw, and we are very happy for the second chance,” Ninnemann said.
Seniors Cassandra Salmen and Allie Tanzer felt fortunate, and described it as a great feeling to be able to play in the NCAA tournament for the first time in their final season.
“It was great. I am so happy,” Salmen said.
“The feeling hasn’t really sunk in yet, but we are going to work even harder now,” Tanzer said.
Ninnemann is excited for her players to experience the NCAA tournament for the first time.
“It’s a great experience and glad they get to have it,” Ninnemann said.
Ninnemann has experience of her own in the NCAA tournament as a player and hopes to share her wisdom with her players.
“It’s fun and an awesome experience. We need to focus but take a moment to soak it all in,” Ninnemann said. “We need to get to the next round because that round is more exciting.”
Ninneman knows as a coach there are different duties than the duties of a player.
“We need to making sure everyone is prepared and get the nerves out quickly in warm ups then get to playing our game,” Ninnemann said.
Salmen and Tanzer both agreed that there will be nerves, but they need to focus more on their game for the team to succeed.
“We know what we need to do to be successful, but we have a good chance,” Salmen said. “We are going to be nervous.”
“We need to try not to focus on pressure but play our game,” Tanzer said.
The Pointers opponent is St. Thomas who the Pointers defeated twice in one goal games back in December at St Thomas. This time, the Pointers will be the home team and feel it will be a close game.
“We are excited to be home and keep our usual routine. Playing in two, one goal games let us know it’s going to be a fight to the end,” Ninneman said.
The game will be played Friday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at Ice Hawks Arena in Stevens Point.