Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Hockey hosts lowly Michigan Tech

On the heels of a UMD road sweep, Wisconsin men’s hockey will get its chance not only to put together the first home sweep of the season, but also to have the leisure to forget about Michigan Tech for the rest of the year.

Michigan Tech (2-5-1 overall, 0-5-1 WCHA) and Wisconsin (5-3, 3-1) will only face each other twice in scheduled contests this year, placing a much larger emphasis on a series sweep this weekend than it would grant normally.

“We don’t see them the rest of the year,” said UW’s head coach Jeff Sauer. “It’s like an eight-point series; if we win two games, we put them behind us for the rest of the year in the standings because they have to win more games than we do to be ahead of us.”

In a series that has additional implications, UW must not overlook the Huskies and their dismal WCHA record. In each of Michigan Tech’s first three series, they have faced the top three teams nationally in third-ranked St. Cloud State, second-ranked Denver and first-ranked Minnesota, giving them an air of anonymity.

The Huskies arrive in Madison coming off 9-2 and 3-1 losses at the hands of Denver in games lacking both defense and offense from the Huskies. This can be attributed to the more or less absence of Michigan Tech’s upperclassmen throughout the year.

The Huskies’ freshman and sophomore classes, scoring 75 percent of the team’s overall points and 70 percent of the squad’s goals, have had to spearhead the team’s scoring efforts.
The Huskies’ leading scorer from the previous three years, senior forward Paul Cabana, has been held in check thus far, managing to net an insignificant four points. Instead, freshman Bryan Perez leads the team in offense, lighting the lamp five times.
“Paul Kabana is one of the best forwards in the WCHA, but he hasn’t scored a lot,” said Sauer. “(But) they have three or four proven goal-scorers.”

Wisconsin, just eight points from being nationally ranked, comes into the weekend with the Defensive Player of the Week in goalie Scott Kabotoff. The junior put together an impressive string of games, stonewalling 82 of Duluth’s 84 shots (.976 save percentage) and stymieing 30 power-play shots.

“[Kabotoff] is really playing with a great deal of confidence,” said Sauer. “I really like the way he’s controlling the puck. He’s like a third defender for us. [However,] we’re giving up way too many shots.”

On the season Kabotoff has be able to help lift UW to fourth spot in the WCHA while tallying four wins, stopping 93.6 percent of opposing shots and allowing only 2.35 goals a game.

“[The key is] just going out there and working hard,” Kabotoff said. “I have to play consistent. [My defensive] is doing well and the forwards are scoring enough goals, so I don’t have to worry about giving up three or four.”

The Badgers’ offense has been potent even with the losses during the offseason.

Matt Hussey and Brad Winchester have become UW’s most productive duo, with each tossing in four goals and assisting on five. But the key has been the unexpected production from the Badger forwards, mainly freshman Alex Leavitt’s three goals and four assists and sophomore Dan Boeser’s goal and five assists.

“People are underestimating us at forward,” said Sauer. “It became very evident [versus Duluth] because we had a lot of scoring from a lot of different people.”

UW has to capitalize on Husky penalties. Down a man, Michigan Tech has had problems dealing with opponents, and the Huskies have seen their leads evaporate repeatedly throughout the season, resulting in losses.

“Teams have scored a lot of power plays on them,” said Sauer. “Hopefully we get the opportunity to score on the power play.”

Unlike the past weekend, do not look for a flurry of fist-throwing to erupt on the ice. If the rest of the Badgers adhere to their goaltender’s views, Sauer will not have to worry about losing anyone to suspension this weekend.

“There hasn’t been anybody who I’ve wanted to fight in the last three or four years,” said Kabotoff.

Michigan Tech has its work cut out for it because UW’s chemistry is beginning to take effect. With an emerging goaltender and an offense that has been on a scorching scoring run, Sauer and company look to enjoy a second series sweep and a four-game winning streak.

Game time has been moved back an hour for Saturday night’s clash from 7:05 to 8:05 to accommodate the Badger/Wolverine football game.

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