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Here's how Sarah Wozniewicz powered her way to a memorable opening month with the Badgers

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Sarah Wozniewicz

Badgers forward Sarah Wozniewicz moves the puck against St. Cloud State forward Jenniina Nylund in an Oct. 9 game at LaBahn Arena.

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It can take some University of Wisconsin women's hockey players a couple of years to get adjusted to the college game. It takes others just a few games.

Badgers assistant coach Jackie Crum made those assertions this week before considering why forward Sarah Wozniewicz has been on the shorter end of that scale.

"She's able to quiet the outside noise that we talk about a lot and she just goes and she plays," Crum said.

Wozniewicz has been making noise for the Badgers in an impressive opening month of the season. After going scoreless in her first two games, she has netted six goals in her last six.

The stakes go up this week for Wozniewicz and the top-ranked Badgers, who host No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday and Sunday at LaBahn Arena.

Wozniewicz's coaches see her rapid rise as being due to a combination of opportunity and work ethic.

There was no question that she was going to be in a prominent spot in the lineup right away. With only 11 forwards on the roster to start the season, the Badgers had little choice but to see what Wozniewicz could do with regular ice time.

Former Badgers standout Carla MacLeod, who coached Wozniewicz for four seasons at the private Edge School in Calgary, Alberta, said her strength and growth made her seem destined for big things.

"But having said that, of course, you make that step to that next level, you're going into a really established program, you're not 100% sure that it's all going to click at the right time," MacLeod said. "But knowing her work ethic and knowing her passion for the game, I knew if given the opportunity, she'd probably do all right with it."

University of Wisconsin women's hockey defender Nicole LaMantia meets with the media to discuss the upcoming games between the No. 1 Badgers and No. 2 Ohio State.

Wozniewicz was under no illusion that things would be easy for her right away at UW, even if she enjoyed a decorated pre-college career going back to her early teen years.

She was one of Canada's top-scoring players at her age group with the Edge School and earned spots on provincial teams and with the 2020 national Under-18 team.

Those accolades don't always translate into as much comfort as Wozniewicz has shown with UW.

"Coming into a program like this, you know you're not going to be the best," she said. "You're going to have to start from somewhere and eventually get there if you work hard at it. But it's obviously going to be a lot of work and you have to put in a lot of effort to get there."

Wozniewicz scored twice in the second period last Sunday to pull the Badgers out of a 2-0 deficit at Minnesota Duluth. The second was all power in winning the puck along the boards, getting to the net and flipping a shot underneath the crossbar.

Those kinds of efforts are appreciated but, to MacLeod, so is her work in backchecking and being a presence in front of the net.

"That's the stuff that as a coach you take a lot of pride in," she said. "And when I watch her (at UW), she competes hard every shift. And that's not always innate in offensive players in midget hockey. So that's where I sit there and I smile and I'm really proud of her because she's absorbed it and she's applying it and it's pretty cool to see."

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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