MADISON – Lacey Eden put in the work and it shows.
The sophomore right wing for the Wisconsin women’s hockey team took an Olympic redshirt last season to train with the national team. She didn’t make the Olympic squad but earned a spot on the team that won silver at the world championship Sept. 4.
A few weeks later she is setting a gold standard for the Badgers.
No player has been more productive offensively during the team’s three games. After posting a four-point series at Penn State last week, Eden recorded two goals and one assist Thursday night in UW’s 6-0 victory over Lindenwood in front of a crowd of 2,171 in the home opener at LaBahn Arena.
She helped set the tone for the night by finding the back of the net 3 minutes 32 seconds into the game.
It was her first home game in two years, and when she last played one crowds weren’t allowed inside the arena due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s such a fun atmosphere. The fans make such a difference,” she said. “It’s awesome to see so many people there cheering. Electric. It bring a whole new level of energy to the team.”
Wisconsin (2-1) is on the short list of teams expected to compete for a national championship in March. Thursday’s non-conference game offered the team some valuable ice time in advance of the WCHA opener next week against St. Thomas.
The Badgers left the arena with plenty of points on which to build.
- Wisconsin had 72 shots on goal, which tied for the second-most in program history. The team’s 33 shots in the second period were a record.
- In a testament to the team’s depth, six players recorded two points or more. Junior left wing Maddi Wheeler had four (two goals, two assists).
- The Badgers held the Lions to just three shots, which tied the program record for fewest in a game. Senior Cami Kronish recorded her first shutout.
“I liked the way we were moving,” Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson said. “I thought we moved the puck well. I liked the way our defensemen joined the rest in the offensive zone. It’s obviously really early in the season, but we try to look for improvements in different parts of the game compared to what we saw last weekend at Penn State. Bigger ice sheet, better movement. It was good.”
Another promising development for Wisconsin has been the play of the line of Eden, Wheeler and junior Casey O’Brien. The three accounted for eight points Thursday.
For the season, they rank first (Eden), third (Wheeler) and fourth (O’Brien) on the team in points.
“I think we’re all really hard workers, smart players and in the right places for each other,” Eden said. “We know where each other is going to be and it’s been awesome playing with them. It’s fun. We’re moving the puck well and we’re going to keep that up here.”
Their performance is to be expected given each player’s résumé.
O’Brien was a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial award last season, and Wheeler ranked fourth on the team in goals (12) and recorded 14 assists.
Eden, meanwhile, returned to Madison after not making the Olympic team, continued to work on her game and earned a spot on the world championship team. She played in all seven games of that tournament and recorded two goals and two assists.
That was less than a month ago, but with the start of the college season she has turned her attention to other goals.
“It’s just building on every single game, trying to be better than the last game,” she said. “Just getting out there and playing as hard as I can every shift for the team because in the end, we have our goal and that is what we’re building toward. It’s great to have a great start, but we want to have a great finish, too.”