Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin faces wicked challenge at NoDak

Tyler Barnes had three assists in Wisconsin’s 10 goal weekend against North Dakota, in October. The sophomore forward has the third most points on the team ­- behind forward Mark Zengerle and defenseman Justin Schultz – with 20 poins on eight goals and 12 assists.[/media-credit]

With a new sense of maturity in tow, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team heads north into the surprisingly friendly confines of North Dakota’s Ralph Engelstad Arena.

To start off the second half of the season, the Badgers (12-10-2, 7-9-2 WCHA) are on a 5-1 winning streak, showing new maturity and confidence. But head coach Mike Eaves doesn’t want the growth to stop and hopes the road contest will provide a nice benchmark for his squad.

“I think on a more subtle level is where are we at as a team and our growth,” Eaves said. “Are we mature enough to go into an environment with a packed building and find a way to get the job done? How will we be in that environment? Will we play with poise and confidence? Will we play the way we need to play? So it’ll be an indication of where we’re at.”


Squaring off in a traditional Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivalry, the Badgers haven’t played at North Dakota (13-10-2, 9-9-0 WCHA) in two years. While the underclassmen don’t quite know what Grand Forks, N.D., has waiting for them, Wisconsin leads the match up with a 86-62-11 all-time record and a 36-30-7 record at North Dakota.

In fact, through their last eight games at UND, UW is 6-1-1, and Eaves personally has a 6-4-2 record there as a coach.

But to continue their current success and the success they’ve had recently against NoDak, the Badgers simply need to keep maturing and keep a rather cliche 1-0 mentality.

“Each week we have a lot of great preparation from practice, and over the weekends everyone’s got to have the same mentality of what we need to do and just take it one game at a time through Friday and through Saturday night,” sophomore defensemen Frankie Simonelli said.

But for Wisconsin, this series means more than keeping momentum going and continual growth.

Currently, the Badgers sit at No. 9 in the WCHA as North Dakota sits at No. 6 – but by a margin of two points.

“We’re scrambling for points to climb the ladder, and so in order for us to do that we need to get some points this weekend,” Eaves said.

“It’s big; you always have your eyes on the teams right above you, you know those are the teams you’re trying to catch,” sophomore forward Tyler Barnes said. “When you get a head-to-head matchup, it’s an exciting time.”

This weekend marks the second series this season between these two teams.

Three weeks into the season, North Dakota entered the Kohl Center only to leave with two fresh losses to its name.

Wisconsin notched five goals Oct. 21, for the 5-3 win – and at the time, only its second win of the season. The following night, the Badgers put up another five goals, and as the Wisconsin football team lost on a last-second hail-mary at Michigan State, the Badger skaters collected their first conference sweep of the season in a 5-4 decision.

Besides location and a slew of injuries on both sides of the ice, Eaves doesn’t see much of a difference between that October weekend and now.

“Their systems play is really the same,” Eaves said. “They’re really banged up. So their personnel has changed, but their philosophy of how they want to play has not changed.”

But for Barnes, this weekend poses a renewed chance for what once was a youth-ridden Badger squad.

“I think both our teams have changed,” Barnes said. “They’ve grown, and we’ve made tremendous strides as well. It’s almost going to be like a new year for us because we were so young in the beginning of the year, but now we’re starting to get some games under our belts, so it’ll be a fun one to see.”

As UW touts some of the nations leading scorers – sophomore forward Mark Zengerle, tied for No. 2 with 38 points and junior defensemen Justin Schultz, No. 5 with 37 points – UND boasts some top goal-scorers of it’s own with forward Danny Kristo, Brock Nelson – tied at No. 22 with 27 points – and junior forward Corban Knight, who after missing several games with an injury still has 24 points on the season.

Simonelli knows when it comes to North Dakota’s leading offensive trio, he has to make sure he’s always aware of where they are on the ice.

“I’m always focused on trying to be a plus or even player,” Simonelli said. “You know defensive mindset going into the game, holding my ground, making sure I know where they’re at when I’m on the ice with them, taking away time and space and making sure that they get nothing.”

This series is also a return home for UND. The last time North Dakota played on it’s home ice, the weekend ended on a sour note, and senior defensemen Ben Blood started a fight with Minnesota’s Kyle Rau as they went through the postgame hand shake.

For Eaves, Blood’s move is simply UND’s identity, and Wisconsin has to be prepared for a weekend that is similarly physical.

“That’s been their way of playing for decades even since [my] day, so that has not changed,” Eaves said. “It’s part of their identity. That’s part of us going in there; we have to play disciplined, we have to play whistle to whistle, and if they want to carry on after – that’s the game within the game, that’s the sportsmanship.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *