Badgers skate to NCAA Tournament - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Badgers skate to NCAA Tournament

Wisconsin junior forward Jefferson Dahl Wisconsin junior forward Jefferson Dahl
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe
Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves

St. Paul (WQOW) -- It's official. The Wisconsin hockey team is guaranteed at least one more game this season. The Badgers will face UMass-Lowell in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

The Badgers earned the WCHA's automatic bid after winning the Broadmoor Cup on Saturday, beating Colorado College 3-2. 

Wisconsin's trip to the tournament is even more impressive when you consider where the team started. The Badgers did not pick up a single win in November, beginning the season just 1-7-2. But Wisconsin took care of its business from there and is now one of just 16 teams alive for the national title.

"It's been a wacky ride from the beginning of the season. The way we started out, 1-7-2, to be in this position -- we knew we had it in us. We grinded our way through the season and everyone stuck together and to come out as WCHA champions, it's a great ride so far," says junior forward, and Eau Claire native, Jefferson Dahl.

Fellow Eau Claire native, Jake McCabe, adds: "Our coaching staff did a great job. They stuck with us through thick and thin. We really played for each other today and throughout these past few months that we were on this tear. It's a very satisfying feeling, I think we deserve it and this group of guys is pretty special."

The Badgers enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation. Wisconsin says it enters this tournament with a lot of confidence, and hopes to ride this level of play all the way to a title.

"I think the confidence level is high right now," says senior captain John Ramage. "I mean, we've been rolling on a streak for a little bit. We've had the odd loss, but really in our minds, it wasn't because we played poorly it's because we didn't execute. So right now we're riding high and we're going to try to keep it going next week. It's tournament time, so this is definitely a special time and it's playoff hockey now"

The Badgers and River Hawks play Friday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be played in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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