The Matchup: Wisconsin at Minnesota State-Mankato
When: Friday Jan. 11 & Saturday Jan. 12
Where: Verizon Wireless Center (4,832)
Ice Sheet: 200' x 100'
All-Time Series: UW leads 23-17-4
Last Meeting: MSU 4, UW 2 (Nov. 23, 2012)
Wisconsin looks to avenge a sweep that came at the hands of the Mavericks at the Kohl Center in late Novemeber.
… more after the jump …
About the Mavericks:
Record: 14-6-2 (8-6-0 WCHA, 16 points, 5th place)
Head Coach: Mike Hastings (14-6-2, 1st season)
Notable: Despite owning an advantage in the all-time series, the Badgers are 6-11-3 all-time in Mankato. UW has never swept MSU on the road. Mavericks’ junior defenseman Josh Nelson is a Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. native.
Points: Matt Leitner – 24 points (6 goals, 18 assists)
Goals: Eriah Hayes – 12 goals
Assists: Leitner – 18 assists
Save Pct.: Stephon Williams – .928
GAA: Williams – 1.77 GAA
About the Badgers:
Record: 6-7-5 (4-5-5 WCHA, 13 points, T-7th place)
Head Coach: Mike Eaves, 11th season (215-161-49)
Notable: The Badgers have split their last two series with the Mavericks in Mankato. UW is currently on an eight game unbeaten streak, the longest such streak since the 2005-06 season when it claimed a national championship. Junior forward Tyler Barnes’ sister, Lauren, plays on Mankato’s women’s hockey team.
Points: Michael Mersch – 17 points (12 goals, 5 assists)
Goals: Mersch – 12 goals
Assists: Derek Lee – 12 assists
Save Pct.: Landon Peterson – .936 save pct.
GAA: Landon Peterson – 1.81 GAA
Quick Analysis: Wisconsin is starting to hit its stride, but there is still plenty of work to be done. It will be nearly impossible for the Badgers to make up ground in the WCHA if they don’t beat any of the teams in front of them down the stretch. This weekend will provide an opportunity to do just that.
Only one of the Badgers six wins has come over an opponent with a winning record. If they hope to make headway in the back half of the conference slate, that needs to change sooner, rather than later.
Freshman forward Nic Kerdiles has provided a noticeable spark for his squad since making his debut in Denver. In eight games, Kerdiles has tallied two goals and four assists. In the 10 games before Kerdiles suited up, the Badgers managed three or more goals in a game just once. They have now scored three or more in six of their last eight games.
There’s no doubt that the return of top-line center Mark Zengerle has also contributed to the offensive production, but the moral of the story is: the new found spark needs to turn into flames if the Badgers are to find continued success.
Prediction: Friday – Wisconsin 3, MSU 2; Saturday – MSU 4, Wisconsin 2