The Matchup: Wisconsin at Alaska-Anchorage
When: Friday Jan. 4 & Saturday Jan. 5
Where: Sullivan Arena (6,251)
Ice Sheet: 200' x 100'
TV: None – GoSeawolves.com (free)
All-Time Series: 49-14-9
Las Meeting: UW 3, UAA 2 (Jan. 21, 2012)
These two teams will play four games in just a three week span and it all begins with the Badgers trip to Anchorage this weekend and the return trip toward the end of the month at the Kohl Center. As bad as Wisconsin has been in WCHA play the Seawolves have been worse and are looking to take out some frustration against a Wisconsin team that is rolling with a six game undefeated streak. The question is was their momentum stopped with the holiday break or can the Badgers regroup and put some of the first half in the rearview mirror?
….. more after the jump …..
About the Seawolves:
Record: 3-9-4 (1-8-3 WCHA, 5 points)
Head Coach: Dave Shyiak (79-161-30, 9th season)
Notable: UAA hasn't swept a home series against the Badgers since doing so Jan. 15-16, 1999 and that was just the second time in school history. Over break Scott Warner was promoted to Assistant Captain and will wear the A along with Matt Bailey.
Points: Blake Tachtell – 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists)
Goals: Scott Allen – 7 goals
Assists: Tachtell & Matt Bailey – 7 assists
Save Pct.: Chris Kamal – .906
GAA: Rob Gunderson – 2.88 GAA
About the Badgers:
Record: 4-7-5 (2-5-5 WCHA, 9 points)
Head Coach: Mike Eaves, 11th season (213-161-49)
Notable: Wisconsin hasn't been on the road since Dec. 1st – the end of the Denver series and the beginning of an unbeaten streak to end the first half of the season. A win to start this series will match the longest unbeaten streak since the 2010-11 season). Coincidentally the unbeaten streak coincides with the start of freshman forward Nic Kerdelis' Badgers career.
Points: Michael Mersch – 15 points (11 goals, 4 assists)
Goals: Michael Mersch – 11 goals
Assists: Derek Lee – 11 assists
Save Pct.: Landon Peterson – .942 save pct.
GAA: Landon Peterson – 1.63 GAA
Quick Analysis: Wisconsin has plain old sucked it up offensively, but as bad as the Badgers are Alaska-Anchorage is worse. They've got just 35 goals on the year, ranking them last in the WCHA. Wisconsin's advantage could well come in the form of their stingy defense which has given up just 36 goals on the year – 2nd behind Minnesota's 35.
If Wisconsin wants to get back in the WCHA race they can not drop any points this weekend, plain and simple. They've got the better offense, even if the goal numbers are equal and I wouldn't be surprised to see a goal explosion for the UW offense this weekend either. That would be music to the ears of concerned Badger fans.
Look for a big time mismatch with the Badgers line of Michael Mersch, Derek Lee, and Joseph LaBate against the 2nd defensive line of the Seawolves. Hard to argue it's not a mismatch with an 11 goal scorer and an 11 assists man on the line.
Wisconsin really should have a big time advantage as well in between the pipes with either Landon Peterson or Joel Rumpel. Both have really played well after a shaky start to the season, but the layoff can be tricky for goaltenders and they'll both need to prove they are back in rhythm in this series.
UAA plays a very slow style of hockey and with the way Wisconsin has played in the first half of the season that could be right up their alley, as Wisconsin hasn't exactly found the faster pace to their liking either.
Prediction: Friday – Wisconsin 4, UAA 1; Saturday – Wisconsin 6, UAA 2
Anything less than a sweep here and Wisconsin's already dwindling NCAA tournament chances are all but gone.