The Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
Dates: Friday-Saturday, Jan. 30-31 8/7 p.m CT
Location: Kohl Center
Ice Surface: 200’ X 97’
TV: BTN Network
Radio: WIBA AM 1310
Video Stream: BTN2go.com
Audio Stream: Badgersportsnetwork.com (Free)
All-Time Series: UW trails 90-160-22
Last Meeting: 5-2 Minnesota over Wisconsin
About University of Minnesota
Record: 11-9-2 (2-2-2-0 in Big Ten)
Head Coach: Don Lucia 363-198-67
Notable: The Gophers started as the pre-season number one team in the nation after reaching the NCAA National Championship Finals last season. The team has not lived up to expectations sliding further and further down the polls. Since the Gophers and the Badgers last met Minnesota has dropped two games one to top-ranked Minnesota State and the other to Minnesota Duluth in the Second Annual North Star College Cup.
Points: Mike Reilly (24)
Goals: Connor Reilly (11)
Assists: Mike Reilly (11)
Save Pct.: Adam Wilcox (.907)
Goals Against Average: Adam Wilcox (2.51)
Record: 2-15-3 Overall, 0-5-1-1 in Big Ten Conference
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (13th Season – 257-195-56)
Notable: Since the last meeting between the Gophers and Badgers, Wisconsin got swept at home by Michigan being outscored 13-4 on the weekend. Eddie Wittchow is now back and eligible to play after serving a two-game suspension for a hit during the final seconds of the last time the Badgers and Gophers played.
Points: Grant Besse (13)
Goals: Grant Besse (7)
Assists: Cameron Hughes and Joseph LaBate (7)
Save Pct.: Joel Rumpel (.898)
Goals Against Average: Joel Rumpel (3.61)
With the Badgers season all but washed away, the team is still searching for their first win in Big Ten play.
It is odd to think that a home series against Minnesota would be a great chance to steal some wins, but it looks like that might be the case.
Minnesota is slumping; their team has not been living up to their own and the nation’s expectations. There is a sense of panic in Minnesota for Don Lucia and his boys and it could be what gives Wisconsin an Edge in this series.
Wisconsin-Minnesota hockey games are always competitive, both teams know each other very well, and both teams do not seem to fond of each other (understatement of the century).
The late surge by sophomore Grant Besse has been a lone bright spot for the Badgers. The Plymouth, Minnesota native has scored in three of the last four games for UW. His energy really started to pick up during the Badgers series against Minnesota, so look for him to net a couple this weekend.
Recent history also would favor the Badgers at home. Last year, Wisconsin recorded a sweep of the then top-ranked Gophers in a surprise upset.
One major key to winning this series will be penalties. Minnesota’s power play is one of the best in the nation operating at about 25 percent. The Badgers cannot afford to take penalties and give Minnesota time to set up their power play unit.
Tempers flared in Minnesota in the last series resulting in a mini-brawl right before the final horn of the series finale. With the teams meeting again so closely after, look for some chippy play early.
Friday- Wisconsin 3 Minnesota 2 , Saturday- Wisconsin 4 Minnesota 1
I really like Wisconsin in this series. It may be ridiculous to believe that this team could win two games in a row let alone one but I have a good feeling about this series. Wisconsin is playing for pride the rest of the season. They need to be feeling like they need some sort of statement to remind the Big Ten that they are not a joke. Badgers sweep at home.