The Wisconsin Badgers played in the national title game two seasons ago but missed the NCAA tournament last year. UW also fell to 7th in the WCHA after finishing in second place in 2009-10. For Mike Eaves’ squad, the single biggest problem has been early departures. The Badgers have had seven players (forwards Derek Stepan, Jordy Murray, and Craig Smith; and defensemen Cody Goloubef, Brendan Smith, Ryan McDonagh, and Jake Gardiner) give up college eligibility over the last two years.
North Dakota was hit harder than normal during the offseason as well. Sioux forwards Jason Gregoire and Brett Hextall left school early to play professional hockey, and their departures, coupled with a graduated class of seven high end players, have left holes up and down the UND lineup.
UW left Houghton, Michigan last weekend after falling to Michigan Tech not once but twice in overtime.
The Badgers have not won a WCHA overtime contest in their last 23 attempts (0-9-14). North Dakota hosted Maine for a pair of non-conference games last weekend and took three of four points from the series, winning Friday’s opener 3-1 before settling for a 3-3 tie in Saturday’s rematch.
In its last 17 WCHA road contests, North Dakota boasts a stellar 14-2-1 record. Much of that is due to the strength of UND’s 2010-11 team, which found success at home and away.
The Fighting Sioux will host Wisconsin for a pair of WCHA games on January 27th and 28th, 2012 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Wisconsin Team Profile
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (10th season at UW, 193-141-42, .569)
National Rankings: NR/NR
This Season: 1-3-0 overall, 0-2-0 WCHA (t-10th)
Last Season: 21-16-4 overall, 12-13-3 WCHA (7th)
Team Offense: 2.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.50 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 11.5% (3 of 26)
Penalty Kill: 73.3% (11 of 15)
Key Players: Sophomore F Mark Zengerle (0-3-3), Sophomore F Tyler Barnes (3-0-3), Freshman F Joseph LaBate (1-2-3), Junior D Justin Schultz (0-5-5), Freshman G Joel Rumpel (1-1-0, 2.50 GAA, .918 SV%)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (8th season at UND, 189-94-28, .653)
National Rankings: #5/#6
This Season: 2-1-1, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 32-9-3 overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 21-6-1 WCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 3.25 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 25.0% (5 of 20)
Penalty Kill: 76.5% (13 of 17)
Key Players: Junior F Corban Knight (3-3-6), Sophomore F Brock Nelson (2-2-4), Junior F Danny Kristo (2-5-7), Sophomore D Derek Forbort (1-1-2), Senior D Ben Blood (1-1-2), Senior G Brad Eidsness (1-0-0, 1.45 GAA, .949 SV%)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: November 13, 2010 (Madison, WI). North Dakota scored three 3rd period goals in under four minutes to secure a 4-2 victory and a road sweep in the Kohl Center. UND outshot the Badgers 68-32 on the weekend.
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, 84-62-11 (.570), and holds a 44-27-3 (.615) edge in games played in Madison.
Game News and Notes
Wisconsin played Colorado College five straight times to close out the 2010-11 season, splitting at home to end the regular season and losing a tough three-game playoff series in Colorado Springs. Since 2005, UND has gone 6-3-0 at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin has allowed the first goal in all four of its games this season. Friday night’s game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports North Wisconsin and Fox College Sports Atlantic. Saturday’s game will not be available outside of Wisconsin.
North Dakota will take a victory away from this weekend’s series, but no more than that. The Fighting Sioux will struggle in their first road contest of the year and won’t recover until Saturday’s rematch. UW 4-2, UND 3-1.
Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.