The Matchup: Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Minnesota
When: Friday Nov. 16 & Saturday Nov. 17, 7pm/8pm(CT)
Where: Mariucci Arena (10,000)
Ice Sheet: 200x100
TV: Friday - FSWisconsin, Saturday - BTN
Radio: Friday - WIBA-AM (1310), Saturday WTSO-AM (1070) Badgers Radio Network
All-Time Series: Minnesota leads 155-87-20
Last Meeting: Minnesota 2, Wisconsin 1
Wisconsin comes into this weekends Border Battle series opener off of their 2nd bye week of the season already. There's no question this is the best rivalry in the western part of the NCAA map and arguably the greatest rivalry in all of college hockey. Despite the sizeable advantage in the overall record for the Gophers, Wisconsin is actually 5-2-1 in the past 8 games at Mariucci Arena and are looking to keep that magic up.
.... more after the jump....
About the Gophers:
Record: 6-2-1 (3-2-1, 7pts in WCHA)
Head Coach: Don Lucia (14th season, 321-175-55)
Notable: The Gophers have just one player from the state of Wisconsin on their roster, junior forward Nate Condon, and just 2 other players that aren't from the state of Minnesota on their roster as a whole. Speaking of keeping things at home, Minnesota is 4-0-0 at home on the year, sweeping Michigan State and beating Canisius and Minnesota State in one off games at home.
Points: Erick Haula - 11pts
Goals: Erick Haula & Nick Bjugstad - 5 goals
Assists: Erick Haula & Nate Condon - 6 assists
Save Pct.: Adam Wilcox - .924
GAA: Adam Wilcox - 1.58GAA
About the Badgers:
Record: 1-4-1 (1-2-1, 3pts in WCHA)
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (11th season, 210-160-45)
Notable: Wisconsin has scored first in four it's first 6 games, but that hasn't been a winning formula for Bucky as they are just 1-2-1 in those games and are going to be without leading scorer Mark Zengerle for this series at the least and probably more with a broken finger.
Points: Mark Zengerle - 6pts.
Goals: Michael Mersch - 4 goals
Assists: Mark Zengerle - 4 assists
Save Pct.: Joel Rumpel - .919
GAA: Joel Rumpel - 2.37GAA
Wisconsin owns the worst scoring mark in the WCHA, averaging 1.83 goals a game and is facing the 2nd best WCHA defense, which is only giving up 2 goals a game on the season. On the other hand Minnesota is 4th in the conference averaging 3.44 goals a game and is going against the 6th best defense in the WCHA giving up 2.67 goals a game.
Those numbers don't bode well for a Badgers team that's missing it's offensive spark in Mark Zengerle along with stud freshman Nic Kredelis who won't be eligible until the series at Denver at the end of November. Michael Mersch needs to be that guy in Zengerle's absence.
Minnesota has more than just Bjugstad and Haula as offensive weapons as they have scored 31 goals as a team already this year and have six players with 3 goals or more a piece. Add in Wilcox at the back end of things, who ranks 1st in the WCHA and 6th nationally in save percentage, and you've got the makings of a team that's capable of winning every time it skates out on the ice.
However, if you know anything at all about this series you can usually throw the records, the feelings and just about everything else out the window. So, how do I see this one coming out for the Badgers?
Prediction: 1pt for Wisconsin (3-3 Tie Friday, 5-2 Minnesota Win Saturday)