In 1999, the nation was abuzz over the coming of Y2K (and its promise of all-out doomsday) and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. With apologies to the tens of Jar Jar Binks lovers out there, neither lived up to the hype.
The same can’t be said of the Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team. They, too, debuted in 1999. And while the team fell in their first ever women’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) conference game at the Kohl Center — an 8–1 setback to the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs on October 8, 1999 — today the Badgers are a perennial national power.
Really though, they’ve been a force throughout their nearly 20-year history. Impossible, you say? Tell that to a team that has never had a losing season. With an all-time record of 540 wins, 134 losses, and 54 ties (as of the end of the 2017–18 regular season), the Badgers are on a run of success that would make the Harlem Globetrotters jealous.
They qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in the 2004–05 season. That taste of the postseason was sweet. But it was the following season that put the team and its fans in a downright sugar coma. That’s because, on March 26, 2006, the Badgers earned their first NCAA championship with a 3–0 victory over two-time defending champion Minnesota.
The Badgers then became back-to-back winners by repeating as NCAA champs on March 18, 2007 as four different Badgers scored in a 4–1 victory over Minnesota Duluth. All told, the team has gone on to win four NCAA titles (also in 2009 and 2011), seven WCHA regular season championships, seven WCHA playoff championships, and make ten appearances in the NCAA Frozen Four. They were also the first team to play in the NCAA championship game four seasons in a row (2006–09).
That kind of success doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work, steely focus, and maybe a bit of a miracle. Or at least someone who played in the “Miracle on Ice” game during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Mark Johnson, who scored two goals in that classic contest, is in his 15th year as coach of the Badgers women’s hockey team. And it’s been under his direction that Wisconsin has established itself among the elite in college women’s hockey.
This season has been no different. The team clinched its third straight WCHA regular-season championship, and has been ranked No. 1 in the nation for more than four months. Next up is the WCHA Final Face-Off and a semifinal matchup with the league’s No. 4 seed on March 3. From there the Badgers look to take another shot at an NCAA title.
Whatever the outcome, it’s safe to say that the Badger women’s hockey team will continue to drop teams whenever it’s time to drop the puck.