(CSTV U-WIRE) MADISON, Wis. — It’s hard to imagine where the 2005-06 Wisconsin women’s hockey team would be without Sara Bauer and Bobbi Jo Slusar.
It is also no surprise then that both Slusar and Bauer are among the top 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, awarded to women’s hockey’s national player of the year.
As an assistant captain this season, Bauer leads the WCHA in points and is fourth in the nation. Bauer was honored as the WCHA preseason player of the year as well is a three-time conference player of the week and two-time USCHO.com national player of the week.
“It’s a credit to both of them because since Sara has been here, she’s been one of our top players,” UW head coach Mark Johnson said. “She’s been our leading scorer now the last few years and she’s a 4.0 student. She likes to go to school and she likes to play hockey. So from a coaching standpoint, those are nice players to have on your team.”
Similarly, Slusar leads all Badger defenders in points and is the nation’s leading defender in points per game. She leads a defensive unit that has given up 1.50 goals per contest while allowing an average of just 20 shots a game.
Those are just the numbers, but the leadership the two have demonstrated from their respective positions, on and off the ice, is a major reason the Badgers are WCHA champions and currently hold the No. 3-ranking in the country.
“Bobbi-Jo [has been] asked to take a bigger role, not only on the ice, but also in the locker room. And she’s done both,” Johnson said. “She’s really developed into, not only a good offensive player for us, but defensively does very well. Both of those players deserve to be on that list. It’s a big honor for them and we certainly are proud of both of them.”
Bauer and Slusar, while honored by their nomination for the Kazmeier Award, say that their main focus remains on winning a national championship.
“It’s a great honor,” Bauer said. “It would be nice to win it at the end but I can’t really focus on it right now with the playoffs coming up. I need to use all my energy to help this team win a national championship.”
Slusar boasts the distinction of being the only defender to make this year’s top-10 list and was quite surprised to hear of her nomination.
“It’s an honor I wasn’t really expecting, but I worked real hard all season and I’m going to continue to work hard,” Slusar said. “Nothing really changes because of the nomination. All I really care about is the team and the individual stuff will come if it’s meant to be.”
Despite being put face-to-face in the race for Player of the Year, the roommates remain close friends and rarely discuss their nominations.
But that’s not to say that it never comes up. Slusar admitted to putting Bauer’s Player of the Year poster on their fridge in order to put the pressure on.
“We joke from time to time but it’s rarely discussed, were both humble people who care about the team first and foremost,” Slusar said.
On the ice, the two display a level of chemistry that is a joy to watch. Playing different positions, Bauer and Slusar have the ability to confuse opposing defenders to no end.
“We have an understanding,” Slusar said. “We’re roommates who have mutual respect for each other and we get along real well.”
“We have a really good feel for each other and we just know where each of us is going to be and that allows us to do some good things when we’re on the ice together,” Bauer said.
The playoffs are only a few days away and for the Badgers to be successful in the postseason, Bauer and Slusar will have to be positive forces they have been all year. This season the team is 20-1-1 when Bauer has a point and 14-0-1 when she scores a goal. The Badgers are a perfect 17-0 when Slusar adds an assist.
While they play different positions on the ice, Bauer and Slusar are almost one in the same. Among the things they share are a Canadian background, an apartment and a team-first outlook towards the game they love.
Unfortunately for them, one thing they will not be sharing is the Patty Kazmaier Trophy.