Women’s hockey: Channell, Ryan form dynamic duo for Badgers

first_imgSince stepping on the ice together for the first time three years ago, juniors Melissa Channell and Jenny Ryan have become a force to be reckoned with.The Wisconsin women’s hockey’s top defensive duo have played side by side since their freshman year, developing their chemistry. Looking at them now, it is no wonder how in sync their playing styles are.In college hockey it is rare for a defensive player, or even an offensive player, to have the same partner for more than two years. But coming into their freshman year together was an advantage both Channell and Ryan have not taken for granted.“I have a lot of fun playing with her,” Ryan said. “I know that we get along well, on and off the ice. It’s fun playing with her and it’s fun growing with her as players since freshman year, and we take pride in each other’s success too.”This season alone, Channell and Ryan have accumulated 68 of Wisconsin’s 229 blocked shots — 33 and 35 respectively. The next highest Badger is senior Courtney Burke, with 31 on the year.The two are not only a key component to Wisconsin’s defensive efforts, but have been vital pieces to the Badgers’ offense as well. Both players have managed to get points on the board, with Channell netting one goal and Ryan tallying five of her own.Both have acquired a handful of assists as well, with Channell delivering 10 on the season and Ryan 22.While Channell and Ryan might be used to each other’s presence on the ice, this year poses a new challenge for them. The challenge comes in the form of an ever changing lineup, a tactic that is head coach Mark Johnson’s brain child.Channell and Ryan have learned each other’s playing styles and quirks, and it allowed them to gain confidence in their play — almost to the point where they can anticipate each other’s moves before they make them.But with Johnson’s changing lineups, playing with different teammates means they have to go back to the basics.“[Channell and Ryan’s familiarity with each other] makes things a lot more comfortable out there,” Ryan said. “Sometimes we get a little too comfortable [to the point] where we don’t even have to look at each other. Then when you’re playing with someone new you have to remind yourself that you actually have to look up and see where you’re passing.”Both girls, however, knew there would be times during their careers at Wisconsin when they would not be playing together. Channell knows it’s rare for a bond like her and Ryan’s to exist at this level of play.“Playing with [Ryan] for three years is something that doesn’t usually happen in college hockey,” Channell said. “When I get put out with other girls on a rotation I just act like it is [Ryan]. The chemistry is a little different, but I don’t think that you can really match [our] chemistry.”While both have spent games on different rotations, Channell and Ryan say their bond can’t be broken.Even when they find themselves on opposite lines, the two teammates and friends still manage to communicate with each other, swapping ideas back and forth whenever and wherever they can.“[Ryan] and I are always communicating on the bench,” Channell said. “I’ll tell her something and then she’ll tell me something, it just goes hand in hand.”With a chemistry like this, Channell and Ryan truly are Wisconsin’s dynamic duo. They have proven themselves to be a key element to the Badgers’ defensive structure, and their chemistry grants the team a special weapon — a weapon most teams can only dream of having.last_img