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'Battle at the Burgh' another great chance to support women's hockey

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Pictured above is Wisconsin senior forward Abby Roque, who made her debut with the U.S. women's national team this week and will be in town for the upcoming 'Battle at the Burgh.'

An important takeaway came out of the joint training camp between the U.S. and Canadian women's national teams last month at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex ahead of their five-game Rivalry Series.

That takeaway was instead of watching these talented athletes every four years at the Olympics or when they represent their countries in international play, another way to support them is by watching them play for their respective college teams - as they are all former or current NCAA players.

And now, fans in Pittsburgh are getting that chance with the first-ever 'Battle at the Burgh' women's college hockey invitational tournament, scheduled for Jan. 4-5 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

The defending national champion University of Wisconsin women's hockey team, currently ranked No. 1 in the country - and coached by former Penguin Mark Johnson - highlights a powerhouse field that also includes No. 3 Northeastern, Colgate and Robert Morris.

"We are excited to bring the very best in women's college hockey to the Pittsburgh region with this unique tournament," said Kara Radeke, executive director of business operations at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. 

Team USA's roster for the first two Rivalry Series games against Canada on Dec. 14 and 17 featured 10 active NCAA players - and four of those players will be in Pittsburgh for the 'Battle of the Burgh.' They are Wisconsin's Natalie Buchbinder, Britta Curl and Abby Roque and Northeastern's Aerin Frankel.

Buchbinder, Curl, Roque and Frankel all made their senior national team debuts in those contests as Team USA looks to get younger following a disappointing showing here in Pittsburgh, where they dropped both exhibition games to Canada. 

They made an immediate impact, helping the Americans win both games. Roque was particularly impressive, scoring in each contest - including the game-winner in Team USA's 2-1 win on Tuesday. 

The tournament will also feature the current top-four scoring leaders in the entire NCAA, led by Wisconsin's Daryl Watts. The junior forward currently has 49 points (18G-31A) in 20 games. She is in her first season with the Badgers after spending the previous two years with Boston College. 

Watts had an incredible freshman campaign, winning the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the nation's best college hockey player after leading the NCAA in points (82), goals (42), power-play goals (10) and points-per-game (2.6).

Roque, a senior forward, ranks second with 41 points (16G-25A) in 20 games played. Their teammate Sophie Shirley, a sophomore forward, ranks third with 38 points (18G-20A). And finally, Colonials senior forward Jaycee Gebhard is tied for fourth with 35 points (11G-24A).

'Battle at the Burgh' is an incredible opportunity to watch those talented players and so many more in a community that has been an amazing supporter of women's hockey. 

"It builds on the momentum of the week-long training camps held by the U.S. and Canada national teams in November and will be another great showcase for women's hockey," Radeke said.

Get your tickets for 'Battle at the Burgh' by clicking here.

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