Britta Curl started her D-I hockey career on the fourth line at the University of Wisconsin.
That, however, did not last very long.
Fast forward to the end of the Badgers’ season and Curl is doing what she did so frequently back home in Bismarck – score goals and lots of them.
The St. Mary’s Central and Bismarck Blizzard alum played a key role in helping Wisconsin win the WCHA tournament last weekend and earn the No. 1 overall seed for the upcoming NCAA hockey tournament.
Curl, who has a whopping 22 goals for the Badgers this season, didn’t expect so much so fast.
“No, I was not expecting this at all coming into it,” she said. “I think you have to have realistic expectations when you come into a team like this, but I also wanted to compete.
“It’s been pretty cool to see my game grow with such good players and that’s played a big part in my success too.”
Curl’s 22 goals are second-most on the Badgers, who carry a 32-4-2 record into Saturday’s game against Syracuse in Madison, Wis. The winner advances to the Frozen Four March 22-24 in Hamden, Conn. Curl’s goal total (22) is tied for ninth-most in all of D-I. She also has 11 assists.
After working her way into more shifts on Wisconsin’s deep and talented roster, Curl believes she belongs.
“I started the year on the fourth line. Since then my role has grown and I’ve been able to develop more confidence to the point where I feel like I deserve to be out playing with my teammates,” she said.
Curl’s strong play for the Badgers was recognized last week when she was named to the WCHA’s All Rookie Team.
“When I found out it was fun to experience that with my teammates because they’re a big part of my success,” she said. “I didn’t spend much time thinking about it at the time, but to kind of reflect a little now, it’s a pretty cool thing.”
Bigger awards certainly lie ahead, but Curl’s never concerned herself with such things.
Helping Wisconsin to the peak of women’s hockey remains the mission.
The Badgers have experienced bitter playoff disappointments in recent seasons. Their last national title came in 2011. Wisconsin and Minnesota (30-5-1) are considered the heavy favorites this time around. The Badgers defeated the Golden Gophers 3-1 in the WCHA final on Sunday at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
“We’ve set ourselves up for the national tournament to do some pretty good things,” Curl said. “It’s exciting. Hopefully we’re able to continue playing like we have been.”
Playing D-I athletics is essentially a year-long proposition, but there are ample resources to aid athletes.
“It's a hard school, but they do a really good job of setting us up for success,” said Curl, who is undecided on a major.
Saturday’s game against Syracuse is already sold out. If the Badgers advance to the Frozen Four, those games would be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, allowing for fans back home to get a glimpse.
“I think it’s cool being able to represent North Dakota. I’m proud of where I played and where I grew up,” Curl said. “It feels good knowing I have a lot of support from people back home.”