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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Hockey Notebook – 3-7-02

Rarely does a collegiate hockey team have two outstanding goaltenders; the Wisconsin men’s hockey team has beaten the odds with the combination of junior Scott Kabotoff and freshman Bernd Bruckler.

UW lost record-setting Graham Melanson and headed into this year’s campaign with question marks surrounding the goaltender position. Kabotoff was expected to log the majority of the minutes based solely on his junior standing with Bruckler filling in sporadically throughout the year.

The duo has played phenomenally, silencing doubters and making the rest of the WCHA take notice. Kabotoff ranks third in the conference in save percentage with an amazing 92.1 percent and sixth in goals against average (2.92), yet falls to eighth in winning percentage (9-10-2). The junior netminder has a higher save percentage than former Badger and current Maple Leaf goalie Curtis Joseph had at this juncture in his career.

“I alluded to [Kabotoff’s ability] earlier in the year when you asked the same questions about whether he would be this type of goaltender,” head coach Jeff Sauer said. “I don’t think he has surprised us in relation to the ability that he has or the way he has played this year but statistically he has surprised all of us.”

Bruckler made the Philadelphia Flyers a happy camp when they selected him in the 2001 NHL entry draft. Bruckler, not to be outdone by Kabotoff, ranks fifth in save percentage (91.6 percent), seventh in goals allowed (3.14) but–just as Kabotoff–has slipped in the winning percentage column. Tied for eleventh with a 5-8-2 record, Bruckler faced Colorado College, Denver and Minnesota. Since each ranked nationally in the top ten, Kabotoff’s numbers may be distorted.

“[Bruckler] stops the puck and that is what we saw in him last year,” Sauer said. “The night I saw him play in the playoffs he had 52 saves and he won in overtime. He is going to be excellent.”

With the dynamic duo healthy and ready for a taste of the postseason, Sauer should feel no anxiety heading into this weekend’s playoff series against Minnesota State.

“I am very comfortable with our goaltenders right now,” Sauer stated. “I thought Scott played very strong and certainly Bernd did an excellent job on Saturday.”

Bruckler Honored

The WCHA Defensive Rookie of the Week was awarded to Bernd Bruckler, the top-ranked freshman goaltender in the league, for his efforts against Minnesota-Duluth Saturday night.

The freshman stymied 47 of 48 shots (.979 save percentage) and led the Badgers to a 5-1 victory. Bruckler, a native Austrian, enabled UW to keep an early four-goal lead by stopping the Bulldogs in the first two periods before giving up the lone goal in the third.

“[Bruckler] is a real competitor and he gets the job done,” said Sauer. “He is going to [be] an excellent goaltender [because] he is very, very athletic.”

Silent Contributer

On a hockey unit that has only one senior defenseman, junior Brian Fahey has been relied on to log substantial minutes while anchoring UW’s defensive schemes.

Fahey, drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2000 (118th overall), has more than answered the call, missing a mere four games–due to injury or suspension–in 118 career contests.

The first time Fahey missed a game was on Dec. 8, 2000, 59 games into his career. This year Fahey’s only miss was due to the infamous Alaska-Anchorage post-series brawl, which resulted in his suspension against Colorado College.

Tight Games

The WCHA has seen an abundance of one-goal games this season. Since Feb. 23, 89 games have been decided by a single goal or less. Leading the conference is Alaska-Anchorage with 15 contests decided by one goal, followed by Minnesota with 12. Wisconsin has played in 11 one-goal games, six coming in the last twelve matchups.

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