Championships and Friendships: A true act of kindness on college hockey’s biggest stage

UW-Madison women's hockey wins National Championship.
UW-Madison women's hockey wins National Championship.(Courtesy: Everything College Hockey)
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 8:56 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 9:05 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Vivian Jungels has certainly had her share of success as a freshman at Wisconsin.

The first-year player who plays defense for the Badgers scored some big goals for the Badgers including the game winner against Colgate, the game that advanced UW-Madison to the Frozen Four. You could say Jungels is having a good time so far in Madison.

“It’s great, I love it,” Jungels said. “Obviously, in the beginning it was an adjustment just getting used to everything. I think just after a couple of week you get used to it and it’s a lot of fun.”

Vivian Jungels
Vivian Jungels(NBC15)

While Vivian was having fun, graduate student Natalie Buchbinder’s fun came to an end when she ruptured her Achilles tendon in pre-game warm-ups before the Mankato State game in January.

“Right then I just started bawling because my seasons over, it’s my senior year, I know I don’t get to come back and put on a jersey, so that hit me hard,” Buchbinder said. She went on to say, “I think I took a day to feel sorry for myself, and then life doesn’t stop for so you got to move on and get back to work, so that’s what I did.”

While Buchbinder worked hard off the ice with her fellow defensemen, Jungels helped the Badgers on the ice to reach the National Championship game.

Natalie Buchbinder
Natalie Buchbinder(NBC15)

It was during the National Championship game’s final minutes that showed that even on hockey’s biggest stage, friendship is just as big as a championship.

“I was down there terrible view, I was watching on the jumbotron for the last three minutes, the most nerve racking three minutes of my life,” Buchbinder said.

“I look up at the jumbotron and Nat was straight across from our bench,” said Jungels with a smile.

The horn sounded and the Badgers had won the National Championship. As the Badgers went to celebrate, Jungels skated across the other side of the rink to help Buchbinder onto the ice to have her join in on the celebration.

“Honestly, I was like, so in the moment, like I didn’t even think about it right away until afterwards. I think Nat was a really big part of our team she inspired us and showed up to the rink when she was going through a difficult time. I wanted to make sure she got to enjoy the moment just as much as everybody else,” Jungels said.

“I realized that I didn’t even get a chance to really thank her. I just said I didn’t get a chance to tell you how much this really meant to me. Thank you for being such a great teammate and I would say to her now never stop being a great teammate and a great person because it goes such a long way,” said Buchbinder, with tears in her eyes.

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