CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 17: Nick Bjugstad #27 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers controls the puck against the Wisconsin Badgers during the Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field on February 17, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota Hockey: Border Battle Preview

The Matchup: Wisconsin vs. No. 16 Minnesota
Dates: Friday, Jan. 16, 8 PM CT and Saturday, Jan. 17, 5PM
Location: Mariucci Arena
Ice Surface: 200’ X 100’
TV: Friday- BTN, Saturday- FoxSports2 (FS Wisconsin)
Radio: WIBA AM 1310
Video Stream: BTN2go.com
Audio Stream: Badgersportsnetwork.com (Free)
All-Time Series: UW trails 90-159-21
Last Meeting: UW won 2-1, The Badgers swept Minnesota last year at home February 6 - 7

 

About University of Minnesota:

Record: 10-7-1 in Overall, 1-2-1 in Conference
Head Coach: Don Lucia (16th season- 382-196-66)
Notable: The Gophers, who at one point were the top ranked college hockey team in the nation, have found themselves on the losing end of games recently. They are coming off of a road trip to Ann Arbor where they were swept by Michigan. In the last two games the Gophers have let in 5.5 goals a game, which is tied for most in any series this year for the Gophers. The key will be if Kyle Rau, the dynamic Senior from local Eden Prairie, can get going and lead this team through the slump like the captain Lucia needs him to be.

 

Stat Leaders:

Points: Kyle Rau (21)
Goals: Connor Reilly (10)
Assists: Mike Reilly (16)
Save Pct.: Adam Wilcox (.910)
Goals Against Average: Adam Wilcox (2.51)

 

About Wisconsin:

Record: 2-12-2 Overall, 0-2-0-0 in Conference
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (13th Season – 257-192-55)
Notable: This is only Wisconsin’s second Big Ten series after playing Penn State December 5-6. The team remains locked on a Big Ten title as their goal and has a chance to pull to a even record by getting Minnesota right during a slight stumble. Wisconsin is no stranger to top tier teams, in fact, Minnesota is the fourth opponent the Badgers have played that at one time was ranked number one in the nation (North Dakota, Michigan Tech, Boston University). Look for Morgan Zulinick to remain hot and try to elevate the play of the teammates around him if the Badgers hope to win.

 

Stat Leaders:

Points: Morgan Zulinick (9)
Goals: Morgan Zulinick (5)
Assists: 5 Tied at 5
Save Pct.: Joel Rumpel (.899)
Goals Against Average: Joel Rumpel (3.35)

 

Quick Analysis:

Another chapter to this storybook rivalry will be added this weekend up in Minnesota, as a struggling Gophers team looks to get back on the right track when taking on the upset minded Badgers.

They key to this series will be the Badgers offense.

Wisconsin recorded its highest shot total of the year in their 6-1 loss against Boston University with 33 shots on goal. That came after a 32 shot performance the night before.

These marked the first games that the Badgers not only outshot opponents, but also reached 30 shots in a contest.

The Wisconsin offense has been non-existent for the majority of the season but getting more shots on Minnesota’s Wilcox will be a key to this matchup.

Look for Joseph LaBate to have a breakout series and for Jedd Soleway to play a major role in the series.

On the other side of the coin, Joel Rumpel will undoubtedly get the nod for the Badgers. Rumpel, who struggled in the series finale against BU has usually been a rock for the Badgers in net.

He will be going up a potent Minnesota attack that is known to score the puck and score it often.

Kyle Rau, Mike Reilly, and Justin Kloos lead the Gophers in points and will be a lot to handle for the young Badger defense.

Defensemen Jack Dougherty and Chase Drake will be forced to shut down the Gophers potent attack and take some of the burden off of Rumpel’s shoulders.

The one statistic in the Gophers favor is that Minnesota rarely loses at home. They are 6-2-0 at home and are not accustom to losing in front of the crowd up in Minneapolis.

Prediction: Friday- Wisconsin 4 Minnesota 2, Saturday- Wisconsin 1 Minnesota 4

I think that Badgers go in on Friday and upset the Gophers on their home ice, but Minnesota just does not get swept at home and with Saturday being Minnesota Hockey Day, the Gophers tighten up and get a win and a series split.

Sawyer Bock

About Sawyer Bock

Sawyer is a Sophomore at UW-Madison majoring in Communication Arts and a beat writer for the UW- Men's Hockey Team. You can catch him on UW-Madison's student radio WSUM where he hosts a sports talk show and broadcasts numerous varieties of Badger sports or on twitter @YoungSawyer_

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