Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Another No. 1 comes to Madison

Forward Keegan Meuer (12) and the rest of the Badgers are welcoming another opportunity to host a top five-ranked at the Kohl Center.[/media-credit]

While the football team was off winning a Big Ten title, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team was celebrating a bye week with some intense endurance-focused practices.

But with yet another No. 1 team coming to town this weekend, the Badgers (7-8-1, 4-7-1 WCHA) are hoping all their hard work will pay off quickly.

“We worked hard; we worked on a lot of team stuff and individual stuff,” sophomore forward Keegan Meuer said. “We took the time to rest a little bit as well as work on our skills and work on a little bit of team stuff.”


For the third time this season, Wisconsin plays host to a top-five team; this time, it is No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth (11-3-2, 9-2-1 WCHA).

The Badgers have had a lot of success against top-five teams on their home ice. In mid-October, WCHA rival North Dakota made its way to the Kohl Center with a lofty No. 5 ranking attached to its name.

The Fighting Sioux made the long trip back home with nothing to show for their efforts against the unranked Badgers, as UW won 5-3 and 5-4 to pick up the series sweep.

Two weeks later, Minnesota crossed over into Wisconsin territory ranked No. 1 nationally. Friday night, the Badgers rose to the occasion and outskated the Gophers to a 3-1 decision. The following night, as the football team brought Paul Bunyan’s Axe back to Madison for the eighth straight year, UW couldn’t keep up with the Golden Gophers in the third period and lost 4-1 to split the series.

Now it’s UMD’s turn.

“I think what those top teams do is they bring out our best,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “I know we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing Duluth, and it’ll be a fun weekend of hockey for all involved.”

The Bulldogs boast the third best team offense in the nation – behind two other WCHA teams: Colorado College and Minnesota – averaging 4.12 goals per game.

UMD’s offense is led by senior center Jack Connolly – who is tied on the WCHA offensive leader board with UW’s junior defenseman Justin Schultz and sophomore forward Mark Zengerle – with 25 points off 11 goals and 14 assists.

Sophomore winger J.T. Brown isn’t far behind with 24 points on six goals and 18 assists, while senior center Travis Oleksuk rounds out the Bulldogs’ top scorers with 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points.

But the Badgers aren’t too worried, as long as they stick to their gameplan.

“We do our normal routine to prepare for the weekend,” sophomore defenseman Frankie Simonelli said. “We know they’re the No. 1 team in the country, but we need to make sure we’re playing our game and prepare the way that we prepare.”

“It’s still the same thing about taking care of the puck, not having us create turnovers for ourselves, being smart in key areas of the ice, special teams will be key – they have a very fine power play,” Eaves said. “We need to be good in that area and stay out of the penalty box. Our power play is going to have to be good, and the x-factor is always the goal tending. We need to have the type of goal tending we’ve had in order for us to have a chance to win.”

Despite being reigning national champions, Minnesota-Duluth started out slow this season, losing three of its first four games. After being swept by Minnesota Oct. 15, the Bulldogs never looked back and haven’t lost since.

On a 12-game unbeaten streak, the Bulldogs are looking hot, but the Badgers are confident that they can keep up with UMD.

“If we just use our speed against their speed and outwork them. … If we successfully do that, stay between them and the net, play good defense and work harder than them we’ll have a good weekend,” Meuer said.

But coming off a tough week with a lot of focus on details and with experience of facing top teams at home, the Badgers know what they need to focus on to be successful.

“Looking back at those series we did the right things to get six out of eight points against top-five teams, so we need to keep doing the same thing that we’ve been doing against them,” Simonelli said. “We need to be aware of who’s on the ice when we’re out there and make sure we’re making the right plays.”

With the chance to finally play another game again, Wisconsin is simply looking forward to another rivalry game against another No. 1.

“We’re not worried about it,” Meuer said. “We’re excited. We welcome it. We’re looking forward to this weekend. We know it’s going to be a tough test and we know they’re a good team so it’s a nice measuring stick for us. And having that previous success at the Kohl Center just against good teams, we feel good about where we’re at.”

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