Driven by destiny, leadership and prowess on both the offensive and defensive end, this team stands alone.No, I’m not talking about the ’85 Bears who finished 15-1 and went on to dismantle the competition in the playoffs, cruising to victory in Super Bowl XX. Nor am I referring to Michael Jordan and his Bulls’ wondrous 1995-96 team that went 72-10. And I’m certainly not citing any of the Celtics teams back in the 60s, the Montreal Canadiens during the 50s through 70s, or even the UCLA teams that won seven straight NCAA titles between 1967 and 1973.In fact, I’m not talking about a team or season that is even on the national radar. What I’m talking about is the Wisconsin women’s hockey team.Look at it. What you’ll find is downright absurd. And outside of Madison, practically nobody knows it. Just like those teams, the Badgers are in a league of their own.Chew on these numbers. Last season, the Badgers capped a 36-4-1 finish with their first national championship. This year, it has been more of the same.Now, there is still plenty of hockey left to be played. They have more talent than some NCAA men’s teams, and they certainly have more heart than Ricky Bobby.There have been some ridiculous streaks in sports lore, including the 1971-72 Lakers’ 33-game winning streak, Oklahoma football’s 47-game winning streak from ’53 to ’57, the 1916 New York Giants’ 26-gamer on the diamond and the 1993 Pittsburgh Penguins’ 17-gamer. These are the streaks of the best there ever were.Sports are difficult to compare across one another, no doubt, but the women’s hockey team won — not tied — 18 straight games, and put together a string of 26 games where they skated to just one tie, going 25-0-1, before being blanked by the Bulldogs of Minnesota-Duluth. For basically three-fourths of a season, the hockey team didn’t lose. To put the duration of that streak in perspective, it would be like the Bulls winning 60 consecutive games that historic season. In football, 26 consecutive games would have assured Matt Leinart’s Trojans two consecutive undefeated seasons. And he still would have gone home with a doggy bag for the remainder.But this UW team isn’t just about one streak. No, after Wisconsin lost 2-0 to Minnesota-Duluth, it has begun another streak. Currently, it is riding a 13-game unbeaten streak. So in the past 40 games, the Badgers have gone 36-1-3 (.938). Although it isn’t perfect, it’s pretty darn close.To me, I find it borderline absurd that when Johnson talked with me a few weeks back about their “slip-ups” to St. Cloud State, we were talking about ties. Not losses, but ties. This team is that good: a tie, not a loss, means the Badgers didn’t play to their utmost potential.And what potential they have. Entering the weekend where Wisconsin outscored Minnesota State 5-0 and 8-0, it ranked No. 4 in the country in goals scored and No. 1 in goals allowed at 1.08. On the power play, the Badgers score at a 32 percent rate (best in the nation) while holding their opponents to a 9 percent conversion rate.During the month of January, the Cardinal and White has outscored its opponents 42-2 over eight games. At one point the Badgers pitched four-straight shutouts and out-shot their opponents by a three-to-one margin. Now if Bobby Boucher were a real athlete, I could put this team’s dominance in perspective, but since he’s not, I feel that there isn’t anyone or any team right now that would do them justice.Sure, Wisconsin is just 1-1-1 when trailing after the second period. But it’s never in that position, so there isn’t much cause for concern. The fact that they have had the lead after two periods in 24 of 28 games says it all.Of course this season would all go to waste if they didn’t win the NCAA Championship, which, according to Johnson, could very well happen.”Once playoff time comes around, Coach always says you can blink your eyes and it can be done,” said freshman forward Meghan Duggan, who is tied for second among rookies with 37 points. “So we’re just going to stay on track and keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”But let’s be realistic. On any given night this squad is going to win 94 percent of the time. Odds are in their favor.And with players and leadership who have been there before and played in the big games, as well as the almost gut-wrenching talent they have up and down their roster, there isn’t a team in the country who will beat them.I know it’s a long way to the eight consecutive championships that the Celtics won during the 60s, but the Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team is well on its way.Kevin is double majoring in journalism and economics. If you would like to discuss the women’s hockey team’s success or possibly your list of the best teams ever, he can be reached at email@example.com.
A late penalty enabled Banbridge to defeat the Tipperary side 13-10 in a Division 2A clash at Spafield.The home side’s try was scored by Ed Leamy.