Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Fate no longer in Badgers’ hands

MINNEAPOLIS ? I?m not sure which the worse scenario is: to
control your own destiny and fall short or to have no control whatsoever.

The Badger men?s hockey team lived the first scenario prior
to and during this weekend?s series against the Golden Gophers. Now, a loss and
a tie later, they?re looking at the latter.

Entering the series, Wisconsin sat in a tie for fourth in
the WCHA with Minnesota State, who was idle this weekend. Instead of building a
cushion between themselves and the rest of the teams nipping at their heels,
the Badgers managed to earn just one measly point against a Gopher team that
had been hard pressed to score goals as of late.

Yes, the single point gave them sole possession of fourth in
the standings. But with so much potentially on the line, UW played far too
lackadaisically for its own good.

Players had been categorizing the Minnesota series as one of
the ?must-win? variety. A sweep would have almost guaranteed them a spot in the
top five in the WCHA, which would also have meant they would earn the right to
host the first round of the conference tournament at the Kohl Center. Get
swept, and things become that much tougher.

Bigger playoff implications may have taken a hit as well. In
college hockey?s Pairwise Rankings ? a less-flawed version of the BCS ? the top
16 schools earn a berth in the NCAA tournament. The Badgers were 12th before
their lackluster performance versus the Gophers; they dropped two spots to No.
14 since then.


As most coaches and players of any sport will tell you, more
so in the collegiate ranks than in the pros, they take things ?one game at a
time? and don?t want to look too far ahead. If that?s the case with the Badger
hockey team, I?m struggling to figure out how they came out so flat Friday.

Head coach Mike Eaves said his team was merely a spectator
for the first two periods of that game ? a fair assessment, seeing as Wisconsin
allowed Minnesota to attain an insurmountable 3-0 lead after two periods of

?We didn?t really show up until the third period,? Eaves

Biggest rival in the game, biggest series to date, and the
team doesn?t show up until the third period? Not sure where their minds were
at, but it clearly wasn?t on the task at hand.

All the Badgers can do from here until tournament time is
sit and cross their fingers. Their next opponent ? St. Cloud State ? is
red-hot, winning its last five games. The only way the Badgers can keep the
Huskies from catching them is to pull off a sweep, something that is never
easily done in the WCHA, let alone on the road. St. Cloud, which has 24 points
this season, travels to North Dakota the following weekend to take on the
Sioux, the conference?s best team.

Again, no small task.

But assume the Huskies and Badgers split the series, each
earning two points. All St. Cloud would need against North Dakota would be a
tie one of the two nights to pull even with Wisconsin.

The same scenario applies in Mankato, where Minnesota State
is tied with St. Cloud at fifth. Like the Huskies, the Mavericks have two
series remaining ? on the road against a very tough Colorado College team and
at home versus a Michigan Tech squad that could be looking to play the role of

Here, the Badgers have no say in the outcome. The Mavericks
have two series? worth of games to pick up one more point than Wisconsin does
in just one series.

?Obviously you check to see how teams are doing, see where
you stand,? UW defenseman Ryan McDonagh said prior to the Minnesota series.

One can only speculate that McDonagh and his teammates will
be watching the other teams a little more closely after this past weekend.

It?s not as if the team didn?t know what was at stake.
Before the weekend, sophomore Aaron Bendickson reiterated the importance of the
last four regular-season games.

?Right now, we know we just have to do our part and win,?
Bendickson said. ?We can?t control what happens to other teams. We just have to
do what we can do right now.?

What they can do now is wait. And maybe throw in a prayer to
the hockey gods.


Tyler is a junior majoring in journalism. If you?re more
optimistic than he is about the Badgers? playoff chances, let him know [email protected].

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