The Matchup: No. 3 Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan
When: Friday, Oct. 11 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 12 8 p.m.
Where: Madison, Wis.- Kohl Center (15,237)
Ice Sheet: 200' x 97'
Radio: Friday: WIBA-AM 1310; Saturday: WTSO-AM 1070
All-Time Series: Wisconsin leads 44-27-6 (31-12-0 in Madison)
Last Meeting: NMU swept 2-1, 4-2 (10/12-13/2012)
About the Wildcats:
2012 record: 15-19-4 (9-15-4 CCHA)
Head Coach: Walt Kyle, 12th season (208-146-89)
Notable: The Wildcats are 3-1 against the Badgers the last two season and all three of those wins have come in the state of Wisconsin. NMU swept UW at the Resch Center in Green Bay last season and split with the Badgers at the Kohl Center to open up the 2011-12 campaign.
Statistics (Top returners)
Points: Reed Seckel- 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists)
Goals: Seckel- 13 goals
Assists: Stephan Vigier- 14 assists
Save Pct.: Michael Doan - .926
Goals Against Average: Doan – 2.91 GAA
2012 record: 22-13-7 (13-8-7 WCHA)
Head Coach: Mike Eaves, 12th season (231-167-51)
Notable: The Badgers are 5-6-0 in season-opening games under Head Coach Mike Eaves, including a five-game losing streak in season openers. UW’s last season-opening victory came in a 4-1 win over Notre Dame on Oct. 12, 2007. UW’s last season-opening victory at home came Oct. 7, 2005, in a 3-2 overtime win over St. Lawrence at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin has swept an opening series since it swept Robert Morris in its first true series in 2007.
Statistics (Top returners)
Points: Michael Mersch - 36 points (23 goals, 13 assists)
Goals: Mersch - 23 goals
Assists: Mark Zengerle – 23 assists
Save Pct.: Joel Rumpel - .929
Goals Against Average: Rumpel - 1.96 GAA
Quick analysis: For whatever reason, Northern Michigan has been able to cause problems for the Badgers (and the former version of the WCHA) in recent years.
NMU was 5-2 against members of the WCHA last season and only one of those seven games was at home.
While it is true that the Cardinal and White have often beaten themselves in these matchups, give credit where credit is due. The Wildcats have played some solid hockey when these two teams have tangled.
One of the biggest issues for the Badgers, especially against Northern Michigan, has been generating scoring chances. Wisconsin has been outshot by the Wildcats in three of their last four meetings (1-2 record).
Another concern for Wisconsin in this series (and for the season) is the output of the power play unit. To say the Badgers struggle on the man-advantage last year would be putting it lightly. UW was 18-139 (13 percent) on the power play last year and the bulk of that success came in the latter portion of the season. If the Badgers hope to live up to the hype, they must improve on this end of special teams. The easiest way to put away a pesky opponent is to capitalize on power play chances.
Prediction: Split. Friday: NMU 3, Wisconsin 2; Saturday: Wisconsin 3, NMU 1.