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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Underclassmen stepping up

In a season in which the UW men’s hockey team was expected to be led by a nucleus of seniors, it is the Badgers’ underclassmen that have come up big as of late.

Sophomore Rene Bourque was the star in last weekend’s sweep of perennial WCHA-power North Dakota, scoring the deciding goals Friday in overtime and Saturday with 6:17 left to play in the third period.

“I think Rene probably played his best hockey I’ve seen him play over the last two weekends,” senior forward Matt Doman said about his linemate. “He’s a goal-scorer, but he’s really been creating a lot of chances for himself by the way he’s been working.”

Also playing beyond their years are freshmen Alex Leavitt and Bernd Bruckler.

Leavitt, a freshman forward from Edmonton, scored twice and also had one assist in Friday’s come-from-behind victory. He was also credited with the assist on Bourque’s game-winner Saturday after Bourque put in a rebound off Leavitt’s shot with time winding down in the third period.

For his performance, Leavitt was named WCHA Rookie of the Week. He is tied for sixth in points among all WCHA rookies, with 12 points through just 16 games.

“Leavitt is just so easy to play with,” Doman said. “He just always seems to be in the right place, and he talks a lot. He’s feisty, and I like him.”

Meanwhile, at goaltender, Bernd Bruckler came in Saturday for junior goalie Scott Kabotoff, whom head coach Jeff Sauer chose to rest. The Austrian did nothing except take on the appearance of a brick wall, letting only a single goal past him in 60 minutes of play, while finishing with 45 saves.

“Bruckler has made a tremendous improvement in three or four areas which have really put him into the picture,” Sauer said. “After the way he played Saturday night, I have confidence in playing either goaltender.”

Winter break: Wisconsin is out of luck if it hopes to carry the momentum gained from last weekend’s pair of WCHA victories.

The Badgers (8-7-1, 6-3-1) now have a long layoff before taking the ice Dec. 27 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee for the Badger Hockey Showdown.

“Keeping this momentum will be difficult,” Sauer said. “It is imperative that we keep this confidence going and build it up. We hold our destiny in our hands, and that is the key.”

Wisconsin next faces a WCHA opponent Jan. 4 when it plays at Denver. The next home matchup against a conference foe will be when the Badgers host Minnesota Jan. 11.

Until then, it will be New Hampshire and Brown who are up next when the Badgers take them on over the holiday break.

During the layoff, the team is forbidden to hold practice together for over two weeks.

Going national: With the Badgers’ sweep of North Dakota last weekend, they are finally close to gaining national recognition. Wisconsin is again close to cracking the national hockey rankings. In the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine Poll, the Badgers sit as the top team not in the rankings with 13 votes. In the USCHO Poll, Wisconsin is the second leading vote-getter not yet in the rankings.

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