Alexis Mauermann already has one championship this season.
The University of Wisconsin junior helped lead the Badgers women’s hockey team to a WCHA title last weekend.
Now the Janesville native and her teammates have their sights set on an even bigger prize: an NCAA title.
Top-ranked Wisconsin (32-4-2) hosts Syracuse in an NCAA quarterfinal game Saturday at the LaBahn Arena on the UW campus. The winner advances to the Frozen Four on March 22 and 24 in Hamden, Connecticut.
“I think winning the WCHA title only fueled the fire for what’s ahead, and that’s to hopefully win a national title,” Mauermann said. “It’s like coach (Mark Johnson) always tells us: Just go out there and enjoy every moment, because nothing is guaranteed
“That’s what we plan on doing.”
The Badgers came up short in the NCAA Tournament in Mauermann’s first two seasons.
Wisconsin lost 3-0 to Clarkson in the championship game in 2017 and fell 4-3 to Colgate in two overtimes in a Frozen Four semifinal game last season.
“We’ve struggled to get to where we wanted to be,” Mauermann said of the last two postseasons. “The bounces just didn’t seem to go our way.
“But I really think this year will be different. We’ve got great senior leadership and some players that have had the experience of playing in the Olympics and on a national team.”
Mauermann hasn’t put up huge numbers this season, but she’s made her opportunities count. She’s second on the team with five game-winning goals.
In 38 games, Mauermann has nine goals and seven assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-21.
“I don’t pay too much attention to that stuff,” Mauermann said of the individual stats. “I’m more concerned with winning and trying to contribute any way I can to our team’s success.
“Sometimes making that right pass or making that rush up ice that results in a goal can be just as rewarding.”
Johnson, a UW legend and a member of the Miracle on Ice 1980 United States Olympic team that shocked Russia and went on to win a gold medal, moved Mauermann onto the top line two weeks ago. The Badgers have outscored their opponents 14-3 since then and have won all four games.
Mauermann now plays on a line with Annie Pankowski and Emily Clark. Pankowski leads the team in scoring with 23 goals and 22 assists and was the MVP of the WCHA Tournament last weekend. Clark is fourth on the team with 14 goals.
“We had a couple of injuries, so coach just shook things up a little bit,” Mauermann said of the line change. “We’ll see where I’m at when we play Syracuse, but it has been a fun line to play on.”
Mauermann is on track to graduate next May with a degree in communication arts, specializing in speech pathology. She’s enjoying the college experience and looking forward to next week’s spring break.
Many of her classmates will be heading south for sandy beaches and warmer weather. Mauermann hopes to spend her’s in Hamden, Connecticut, celebrating a national championship.
John Barry is a sports writer for The Gazette. Email him at email@example.com