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Wisconsin women's hockey games wiped out due to St. Thomas' COVID-19 issues

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2021-12-03-UW-Minn_12-12032021212254

The Badgers skate after losing to Minnesota on Dec. 3.

The University of Wisconsin women's hockey team won't play against St. Thomas this weekend but it's too soon to close the book entirely on the second series of the season between the teams.

Games originally scheduled for Saturday and Sunday between the top-ranked Badgers and the Tommies were called off on Wednesday because of COVID-19 cases in the St. Thomas program.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association said it'll make an effort with the teams to reschedule the games, something that likely would require midweek contests because both sides are booked on every weekend through the end of the regular season.

University of Wisconsin women's hockey coach Mark Johnson meets with the media Wednesday after games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday against St. Thomas were called off because of COVID-19 cases in the Tommies' program.

Asked how far he'd go to make up the contests, Badgers coach Mark Johnson said the Badgers would be willing to play them on the road. With back-to-back trips to Minnesota and St. Cloud State later this month on UW's schedule, there might be an opening.

"There's time and space for us to maybe have to play games in St. Thomas again," Johnson said. "We'll try to at least get one of those, if not both of those, in the next couple of weeks.

"The advantage right now is our kids aren't in school. And so you have a little bit more flexibility within your schedule, what you can and can't do. When school starts up then it becomes a little bit more challenging. But I think both groups and our commissioner, the flexibility that everybody has to have within their program is you might have to play on a Tuesday night, you might have to play on a Monday night with the situation we're in if we're going to try to get all our games in."

Unlike the Badgers men's team, which was able to get back on the ice last Saturday and Sunday after having 16 players in quarantine because of COVID-19 protocols, St. Thomas won't be able to play this weekend because of its case numbers and quarantine requirements.

If the games can't be rescheduled, they'll be recorded as no contests. The WCHA also had a series between Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State wiped out last week because of COVID-19, and if all games can't be played a change in the standings will be required.

In that case, the standings will be determined by points percentage from league games played.

The Badgers swept St. Thomas, which is in its first year in both Division I and the WCHA, 7-1 and 5-1 in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, in November.

UW had games canceled because of the pandemic last season but until this week hadn't suffered a disruption of the 2021-22 game schedule.

"I think now we're all sitting on the edge of our seat just waiting for our next opportunity," Badgers center Casey O'Brien said. "Us as players aren't really sure; we just hear from our coaching staff. I think we're always going to have to be ready, whether they throw in some new games or whether they reschedule the St. Thomas ones. But I think it's just going to get us more excited for whatever our next game is going to be and we're going to be ready to go."

The Badgers played an exhibition game on Monday against UW-Eau Claire but otherwise have had only two games in the last month. They defeated and tied Quinnipiac at LaBahn Arena on Jan. 1-2.

UW is scheduled to play at No. 4 Minnesota on Jan. 21 and 22. It struggled early in the series against the Gophers in December, which came on the heels of a bye week. The Dec. 3 loss is the only defeat on the Badgers' record this season.

Details on ticket refunds for the St. Thomas games haven't yet been worked out by UW.

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