Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers head to Coliseum with WCHA title in reach

Junior forwrad Mark Zengerle has helped anchor the Badgers line with Tyler Barnes and Nic Kerdiles that has helped contribute to a resurgent offense for UW.[/media-credit]

Wisconsin is headed home to the place where it all started.

When the UW men’s hockey team hosts WCHA leaders St. Cloud State Friday and Saturday at the Coliseum in a critical late season game, it will mark the return of the Badgers to their previous home starting in the 1967 season before playing their final game there in 1998.

During that span in Wisconsin hockey history, UW won five National Championships and appeared in the National Championship seven times.


With a series of up and down games over the last few months, the Badgers (16-11-7, 12-7-7 WCHA) will need to summon some of the success of past teams if they are to pull off a miraculous end to their final season in the WCHA.

“We are coming back [to the Coliseum] to end it all in the WCHA … I think it is ironic, it is kind of neat, justified in some form or fashion,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “Here we are and it should be a lot of fun.”

Just two weeks ago, the future looked fairly dim yet again for a UW hockey team that had just lost to a first-year Penn State squad Monday night.

Although climbing as high as No. 17 in the PairWise rankings – a ranking system designed to predict a team’s chances of qualifying for the NCAA tournament – after Saturday’s victory, a birth in the NCAA Tournament had become a very real possibility before the disastrous overtime loss Monday.

But as has been the case all season, one week can make a huge difference.

On the road March 1 and 2, the Badgers earned a pair of stunning victories against then-No. 7 Nebraska-Omaha and suddenly the tables have turned.

Junior forward Mark Zengerle never imagined UW would be in this position after a slow start almost derailed their championship hopes at the start of the season.

Now sitting just four points out of first behind SCSU, he hopes that the success built up from last week’s wins will carry over to this series.

“We’re not changing anything,” Zengerle said. “We’re playing well, just [need to] continue what we did over the last weekend and we should be OK.”

However, this potential ascension to the top of the league is not as simple as it seems at first glance, as both Minnesota and North Dakota still sit in between Wisconsin and a share at the WCHA regular season crown.

Even if the Badgers were to win both nights, in order for UW to catch up to Minnesota in the standings, it would require Minnesota earn no more than two points over the weekend against Bemidji State.

While this is certainly possible in a competitive WCHA conference, this scenario seems unlikely considering the Gophers are competing against a Bemidji State team that has only won one game in its last sixteen.

Meanwhile, North Dakota – which would also need to earn no more than two points this weekend if the Badgers are to jump them – will face a much tougher Minnesota State squad this weekend.

Currently tied with Wisconsin in fourth place, Minnesota State has been on a roll as of late, winning five of its last six games.

Regardless, none of these scenarios will be possible for UW, unless the Badgers are able to earn four points against St. Cloud State – a requirement that will be no easy feat for an inconsistent UW squad.

On the season, the Huskies are tied for first place in scoring offense in the WCHA with an average of 3.38 goals per game, while they sit in second place in the conference in fewest goals allowed per game, allowing only 2.35 goals per game in 2012-13.

In order to keep up with a high-flying offense like SCSU, UW will need to capitalize on their recent offensive form.

Scoring 10 goals in two games, Wisconsin had 10 different players earn points over the weekend. This offensive outbreak came despite struggles all season to score, and UW still sits near the bottom of the WCHA in scoring, averaging just 2.46 goals per game.

But current form is all that matters and Eaves attributed their newfound success to a growing confidence between forwards Tyler Barnes, Mark Zengerle and Nic Kerdiles.

“I think that they have led the charge,” Eaves said. “They’ve kind of caught on fire a little bit, and then the guys that we’ve asked to chip in, not carry the big load, are doing that, so that combination has provided some goals for us.”

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 *