The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team is coming off of a solid weekend on the road in Colorado and hopes to end non-conference play on a high note at home against Omaha University.
The Badgers split last weekend’s matchups, beating Colorado College 2-1 Friday night and hanging with No. 2 Denver, but falling short in the 6-5 thriller Saturday.
The power play production was prolific for the Badgers in Colorado, scoring on four of their 10 opportunities with three of those coming against No. 2 Denver.
“I think we proved that we deserve to be on the ice with the best teams in the country, so I think going into this weekend we have to keep up with that confidence,” Seamus Malone said following Tuesday’s practice.
Wisconsin special team units have been fantastic this season, converting on just over 24 percent of their power play opportunities and killing off nearly 90 percent of their opponent’s chances.
This weekend’s matchup will be a true test of that success as Omaha’s power play unit ranks No. 1 in the country, scoring on over 32 percent of their chances.
“They got a great power play so that’s gonna be the big challenge for us,” head coach Tony Granato said. “We’re playing a team that going into the series we know how their power play is dynamic.”
The 7-5-2 Mavericks come to Madison undefeated on the road (4-0-1) and are itching to prove themselves as a top team in the country. Like the Badgers, Omaha has been competitive with top ranked teams, including two tight matchups with No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth two weekends ago.
Wisconsin, however, has different plans for their last non-conference series of the season. The Badgers have had a incredible turnaround from last year’s disappointing season and see Omaha as a way to cap off that run with conference play on the rise.
“We need to gain some momentum, and we did last weekend,” Malone said. “I think we need to keep that going, and two wins would be really good going into Michigan.”
Malone has been outstanding the last couple of series, moving his way up to the second spot on the team’s points leaderboard (13) and now holds a plus 2 in the plus-minus column.
Right alongside Malone is senior forward Grant Besse, who leads the Badgers in points with 15, four of them coming last weekend in Colorado including a game winner Friday night.
This high-powered Badger offense gets off the 7th most shots per game in the country (33.83) and will need to convert on those opportunities to come out on top against Omaha.
This is the Badger’s best 12 game start since the 2009-10 campaign and two wins this weekend would be a big step to shoot them into Big Ten play.
The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. CT, Friday and Saturday night, respectively, as the Badgers take the ice against the Omaha Mavericks.