MADISON, WI - DECEMBER 03: The Kohl Center is shown before a game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Wisconsin Badgers at Kohl Center on December 03, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Badger Hockey Preview: Michigan State comes to the Kohl Center

The Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Michigan State

Dates: Friday-Saturday, February 20-21, 8/7 P.M CT

Location: Kohl Center

Ice Surface: 200’ X 97’

TV: Friday BTN Network. Saturday: Wisconsin Channel

Radio: WIBA AM 1310

Video Stream: BTN2go.com/BTN2go app

Audio Stream: Badgersportsnetwork.com (Free)

All-Time Series: UW trails 45-46-3

Last Meeting: Wisconsin over Michigan State 4-3

 

 

About University of Michigan State

Record: 12-12-2, 6-4-2-2 in Big Ten

Head Coach: Tom Anastos (4th Season – 56-71-16)

Notable: Michigan State enters their weekend series in Madison tied with Penn State for third in the Big Ten Conference. Winning five of their last six games, which were all in conference, has fueled their recent surge from fourth to fifth. During that six game stretch the Spartans swept Ohio State and Penn State at home.

Stat Leaders:

Points: Matt Berry (21)

Goals: Mackenzi MacEachern (10)

Assists: Matt Berry (13)

Save Pct.: Jake Hildebrand (.924)

Goals Against Average: Jake Hildebrand (2.27)

 

About Wisconsin:

Record: 3-19-4 Overall, 1-9-2-2 in Big Ten Conference

Head Coach: Mike Eaves (13th Season – 258-199-57)

Notable: The Badgers return to The Kohl Center after splitting a series against Ohio State this past weekend. Their first Big Ten victory was not good enough to get the Badgers out of last place in the Big Ten but did put them only two points behind Ohio State. Ohio State takes on Big Ten number one Michigan this weekend.

 

Stat Leaders:

Points: Grant Besse (20)

Goals: Grant Besse (10)

Assists: Grant Besse (10)

Save Pct.: Joel Rumpel (.899)

Goals Against Average: Joel Rumpel (3.67)

 

Quick Analysis:

The Badgers head into this weekend’s series with Michigan State after securing their first Big Ten win the last time they took the ice in a 3-2 victory over The Ohio State Buckeyes.

The Badgers take their small amount of momentum against a Michigan State team that has won five of their last six game including a sweep at home of the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Look for the Badgers to continue to switch up the lines in this weekend’s series. The first line Saturday, which consisted of two freshmen Adam Rockwood and Jedd Soleway centered by Joseph LaBate looked strong for the Badgers, and ended up producing the game-winning goal.

The new look second line of Grant Besse, Morgan Zulinick, and Cameron Hughes also combined nicely and produced a goal of their own in the 3-2 victory.

The big statistic that I point to in the Ohio State win is that Joel Rumpel only made twenty-eight saves.

Wisconsin will need to not rely on Rumpel to make thirty to forty saves a night to keep the Badgers in the game. That being said, Rumpel came up big, especially late in the win over Ohio State and Wisconsin will undoubtedly need him to be on his game if they hope to pull off an upset.

Wisconsin’s youth will also play a role in this weekend’s series.

Wisconsin’s freshmen were called upon to produce early on in their college hockey careers and they have recently been answering the bell.

That group had accounted for five consecutive goals over three games until Besse snapped the streak Saturday. However, the youngsters did not waste time starting a new streak, with freshman Adam Rockwood delivering the game winner.

The Badgers freshmen will have their hands full, as Michigan State is one of the more veteran teams in the Big Ten, playing just four freshmen this season. MSU is a team full of seasoned veterans who can throw around their weight. Wisconsin may be outsized, like they have been multiple times, in this matchup.

 

Prediction:

Friday: Wisconsin: 2 Michigan State: 5, Saturday: Wisconsin: 2 Michigan State: 2

I’d love to take the Badgers in a sweep here because I do believe that they could pull together after the Ohio State win and make a statement against Michigan State, but the sports analyst inside my brain is telling me that it just is not going to happen. Michigan State is far too good and far too hot for the Badgers to pull off the sweep, maybe too hot even to pull off a sweep. Michigan State beats up on the Badgers Friday then play to a draw the second night. I’ll take the Badgers in that shoot out though. Besse shoot out goals for days.

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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