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Deluce key to UW’s offensive success

first_imgJunior forward Mallory Deluce has returned from injury and a brief international tournament to steady the ship for Wisconsin\’s women\’s hockey team.[/media-credit]It has been a rocky road for the Wisconsin women’s hockey team this season, and the rocks upsetting the normally smooth ride have been injuries. Losing players for games at a time has been a constant nuisance for the team, but if that was not enough, an Olympic year arrived and required the borrowing of Wisconsin’s two most talented players — and a head coach — at different points of the season.No matter how intense the rollercoaster may be, optimism is always a necessity — as well as a strive for consistency — and for that the Badgers have never had to look beyond junior forward Mallory Deluce.All season, the Badger’s offense has been characterized as being able to light up a scoreboard if only they could convert more often on the multitude of scoring opportunities they generate. Despite this, Deluce has consistently remained a force on the Badger offense.Marred by missed opportunities all year, Deluce is one of few Badgers to orchestrate successful attacks on the net. Her 11 goals — second only to sophomore Brooke Ammerman’s 16 — and nine assists put her in second on the team in points, with 20. Her plus/minus ratio of +13 has her teammates feeling fortunate knowing she is skating next to them.“Mallory is such a great person to work with,” interim head coach Tracey DeKeyser said. “She’s very coachable, very driven, hard-working and I think that everyone up front loves playing with Mal. If she’s on your line, it’s a good thing because she works hard for her linemates.”What has really set Deluce apart from the theme of the offense this season is her efficient approach in scoring. Of the players who have shot at least 30 times, Deluce leads the team with a .143 shot percentage.“She just has a nose for the net,” DeKeyser said of Deluce. “Especially down low in front of the crease behind the net. She has this knack or ability to get to the net.“She drives the net hard and is willing to grind, she’s willing to be a playmaker, a goal-scorer, a support-player. She’s not set in any one position and she just works at it.”After recovering from a small injury and returning from an international tournament with Canada’s Under-22 National Team over winter break, Deluce returned to the ice with the Badgers last weekend against St. Cloud State. During her four-game absence, Wisconsin went 1-3 and managed to score only seven goals within that span.Wisconsin was glad to welcome back Deluce, who picked up right where she left off by scoring two goals and adding two assists in the series against SCSU.With added confidence this year, Deluce says her ability to efficiently find the net is a product of doing the small things right and staying focused with fundamentals. On the ice, Deluce says she is always looking for the best opportunity.“I’ll look to see if I can get a shot away and at the same time I’ll look for another teammate who is in a better position to score and see what the goalie’s doing,” Deluce said. “I’ll think fast and just try to get the best out of the opportunity of my attack on the net.”Deluce has shown a natural ability of weaving through defenses and sending the puck to where the goaltender cannot reach it. Having played against Deluce in high school, Ammerman knows Deluce’s style of play well.“She can find the net,” Ammerman said. “She has a really nice backhand and she always finds the seam in the goalie so when she takes a shot there’s a pretty good chance it’s going in.”With Deluce’s return to the ice, Wisconsin wins back not only a consistent scoring-threat, but also a leader who can influence the entire team. Ammerman and DeKeyser both agree that Deluce helps bring a lot to the team in positive energy and work ethic in terms of intangibles.With eight games remaining, Deluce is determined to smooth out Wisconsin’s bumpy season in time for a playoff run.“I just try to tell them to stay positive on the bench and stay focused and have lots of energy,” she said. “Do the small things right. If you take care of the details you’ll play well.”last_img read more