Wisconsin standout forward Abby Roque realizes the pressure is there to produce, even as a sophomore.
But she doesn’t mind. Roque embraces the pressure that goes with playing as a top forward on the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.
“Obviously, you feel a lot of pressure, but it’s good to have pressure, and you want that,” Roque said. “You’re going to get moments where the puck is on your stick and you have to do the very best for your team. You feel pressure to make big plays and moments on the ice, but you need someone to step up and help the team.”
Roque has done just that for the Badgers, who are playing without several key pieces this season.
Emily Clark, in addition to former linemates Sarah Nurse and Annie Pankowski, all competed in Olympic camps this season. Sydney McKibbon, who played a second-line role, graduated, making Roque the team’s top returning scorer from a season ago.
“Missing key components, you need different players to step up, and our team has done a great job of getting people to fill those spots,” Roque said. “We lost a lot of great seniors and juniors, which makes us veterans now, so we have to step up and prove ourselves every game.”
Roque has done just that for the Badgers. It has put the sophomore from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan in the conversation for the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award, presented annually to the top women’s college hockey player in the country.
“It means a lot because there are a lot of amazing hockey players who have won it,” Roque said. “It’s really special to be put in the same category as some of the best players in the world. It’s truly an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence because the Patty Kaz is an elite group of girls.”
Roque was a teammate of last year’s winner, Ann-Renee Desbiens, the former Wisconsin standout goaltender, who earned a spot on Canada’s 2018 Olympic Team.
“I think Ann-Renee is such an amazing hockey player,” Roque said. “Seeing her in the Olympics is a lot, especially considering she was at Wisconsin last year. If I’m put in the same category, or even mentioned close to her, it gives you a boost of confidence.”
Roque was named the WCHA Rookie of the Year last season. She played in all 40 games at Wisconsin as a freshman, scoring eight goals and 28 points.
Roque admitted she had a slow start to her freshman campaign, but found a groove as the season continued.
“Everybody transitions to college hockey at their own pace,” Roque said. “It was difficult at first, but the players and coaching staff made it easier. Once the season started rolling, I picked up the game and it got easier for me. I improved at the college level because I had a lot of support behind me and I think that’s what really helped.”
A summer of offseason training with coaches and teammates helped Roque transition into her sophomore season.
“You get to know everyone on the team during the summer,” Roque said. “They push you all summer on the ice and in the weight room, so by the time the season rolls around you’ve been training for three months. I think that’s really helpful when you’re starting a season.”
It has already paid off for Roque this season. The sophomore standout has appeared in 34 games, recording nine goals and a team-best 35 points. She was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Month in September and October and has a plus-24 rating. It has helped Roque step up for a standout sophomore season.
“When you’re a freshman, you’re obviously getting used to things in the beginning, but you’re expected to be on the ball your sophomore season,” Roque said. “You’re expected to be a veteran. I was expected to be ready to go and I think I was coming into this season.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.