Weekend Preview: UND at Wisconsin

Four minutes at Ford Field. That’s how long it took for Wisconsin’s championship dream to end last season. Boston College held a tenuous 1-0 after two periods in the NCAA title game, and the teams seemed poised to play a classic final twenty minutes.

The Eagles put all that to rest with two goals early in period three and added two more, scoring four times on eight shots in the final frame to rout UW 5-0.

For Mike Eaves and the Badgers, it was another off-season filled with early departures (forward Derek Stepan and defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith, and Cody Goloubef). Stepan scored over 50 points last season (12-42-54), while the three blue liners potted 22 goals and added 62 helpers. In addition, Wisconsin graduated seven forwards after last season’s championship run.

In short, Bucky returns only one double digit goal scorer (Jordy Murray) from last year’s squad; by comparison, North Dakota brought back five (Jason Gregoire, Danny Kristo, Brett Hextall, Brad Malone, and Matt Frattin).

For Wisconsin, two young forwards have added some unexpected scoring. Freshman Mark Zengerle has 16 points this season (3 goals, 13 assists), while sophomore Craig Smith has already notched five goals and assisted on eight others. In the early going, the Badgers have also had excellent goaltending from Scott Gudmandson and find themselves tied for second in the WCHA.

On the North Dakota side, Dave Hakstol avoided the early departure bug but has three players sidelined for this weekend’s action. Two key defensemen, Derek Forbort and Andrew MacWilliam, are still battling illness, while forward Carter Rowney has not played since taking a high elbow against Denver. The Fighting Sioux will roll out the same lineup for the second consecutive weekend, with Joe Gleason and Dillon Simpson manning the blue line for the Green and White.

Wisconsin Team Profile

Head Coach: Mike Eaves (9th season at UW, 177-124-40, .578)
This Season: 6-2-2 Overall, 3-1-2 WCHA (t-2nd)
National Rankings: #13/#14
Last Season: 28-11-4 overall (NCAA national runner-up), 17-8-3 WCHA (2nd)

Team Offense: 4.30 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.80 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 30.9% (17 of 55)
Penalty Kill: 82.7% (43 of 52)

Key Players: Freshman F Mark Zengerle (3-13-16), Sophomore F Craig Smith (5-8-13), Junior F Jordy Murray (8-2-10), Junior D Jake Gardiner (2-7-9), Sophomore D Justin Schultz (4-8-12), Senior G Scott Gudmandson (3-2-1, 1.98 GAA, .929 SV%, 1 SO)

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (7th season at UND, 160-88-25, .632)
This Season: 5-4-1, 4-2-0 WCHA (t-2nd)
National Rankings: #10/#10
Last Season: 25-13-5 overall (NCAA Northeast Regional semifinalist), 15-10-3 WCHA (t-4th)

Team Offense: 3.30 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.20 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 25.0% (12 of 48)
Penalty Kill: 82.0% (41 of 50)

Key Players: Junior F Jason Gregoire (3-5-8), Sophomore F Corban Knight (5-6-11), Senior F Evan Trupp (3-5-8), Senior F Matt Frattin (8-2-10), Senior D Chay Genoway (1-5-6), Sophomore G Aaron Dell (4-3-0, 2.78 GAA, .877 SV%)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: December 12, 2009 (Grand Forks, ND). Wisconsin scored three power play goals and Scott Gudmandson stopped 31 shots as the visiting Badgers outlasted North Dakota 4-3. The two teams skated to a 3-3- tie in Friday’s opener.

Last Meeting in Madison: March 7, 2009. One night after clinching the MacNaughton Cup with a victory over Bucky, the Fighting Sioux allowed Derek Stepan to score two shorthanded goals on the same power play. Wisconsin took the series finale, 4-1.

Last Ten: The Badgers have had slightly the better of it in recent history, going 5-4-1 (.550) over the last ten tilts.

Most Important Meeting: March 27, 1982. A 2-2 tie after two periods turns into a 5-2 Sioux victory, as Phil Sykes nets a hat trick and leads UND to its fourth National Championship.

All-time Series: Wisconsin leads the all-time series, 84-60-11 (.574), and holds a 44-25-3 (.632) edge in games played in Madison.

Game News and Notes

North Dakota has not beaten Wisconsin since March 6, 2009. Wisconsin freshman forward Mark Zengerle is coming off a six-point weekend against Minnesota. The Sioux and Badgers are not scheduled to play again this season but could meet in the playoffs. Friday’s opener can be seen live on Fox College Sports Central and FSN Wisconsin.

The Prediction

North Dakota will take a victory away from this weekend’s series, but no more than that. The Fighting Sioux have been winning on Friday nights, but I have a feeling that UND won’t really settle in until Saturday. UW 4-2, UND 3-1.

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