Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Recognition for Badgers’ hockey team may come after Michigan Tech

The Wisconsin men’s hockey team may finally get a chance to crack the top-15 rankings this weekend when they play host to the Michigan Tech Huskies in their WCHA home opener.

Wisconsin (5-3, 3-3 WCHA) swept Minnesota-Duluth last weekend on the road. The Badgers are currently in fourth place in the WCHA standings and are also the top vote getter among those teams not in the national rankings. Two victories over conference chump Michigan Tech (2-5-1, 0-5-1 WCHA) this weekend would virtually guarantee the Badgers a spot among the nation’s elite.

Recognition in the poll, issued by USA Today and American Hockey Magazine, would place UW in the company of five other WCHA teams already in the rankings, bringing the league’s total to six teams. Already in the rankings are St. Cloud State, Denver, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Colorado College.

Also receiving attention was UW junior goaltender Scott Kabotoff, who was recently named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week (Nov. 12-18) after the Badgers’ pair of victories in Duluth. Kabotoff stopped 82 of 84 shots on goal in the series and has appeared to gain a hold on the starting goalie position.

Through six conference games, his WCHA saves percentage is .966 and his goals-against average stands at a remarkable 1.33 per game.

Need to take the Huskies seriously: No matter how tough it may be, the Badgers have to retain focus and take their series against Michigan Tech seriously.

Despite a horrendous defense that has given up 41 goals already this season (compared with a UW total of 20 goals-against), the series is of great importance, as it is the only time Wisconsin will face Michigan Tech this year.

“It’s like an eight-point series because we only play Michigan Tech twice,” Wisconsin head coach Jeff Sauer said. “To win two [games] this weekend puts them behind the eight ball if we end up tied at the end of the season. It also puts us in a scenario where we can eliminate a team from our competition by beating them twice at home.”

A tough second half of the year makes it vital that the Badgers clean up on the WCHA doormat this weekend, as to have a good record by the mid-point of the season.

And for the odds that Wisconsin will finish tied with the Huskies in the WCHA standings at the end of the year?

“It won’t happen,” Sauer flatly stated.

Dates, Times, and Gumption: The starting time of the game on Saturday has been pushed back one hour to 8:05 p.m., after the football game at Camp Randall was moved to 2:30 p.m. to accommodate a national television audience. However, Friday night’s contest is still listed as having a 7:05 p.m. start time.

Tickets for the 2002 WCHA Final Five in St. Paul will go on sale today. The Final Five will be played again at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Ticket orders are accepted by phone at (651) 989-5151.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s official website www.wcha.com. By typing in www.wcha.org (which would normally be the proper web site for a national organization called the WCHA), you will reach the web site for the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association.

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