Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WCHA Previews: Wisconsin

School: Wisconsin
Mascot: Badgers
Head Coach: Mike Eaves, 7th year, 136-95-30

Last Season: 11-12-5, 6th place WCHA; 16-17-7 Overall

Predicted 08/09 WCHA Finish: 3rd

Key Departures:
F Kyle Turris, 11-24-35*
D Davis Drewiske, 5-16-21
D Kyle Klubertanz, 4-16-20
F Matt Ford, 4-5-9
*All stats listed from 07/08

Key Returnees:
F Ben Street (Sr), 13-17-30
F Blake Geoffrion (Jr), 10-20-30
F Michael Davies (Jr), 13-11-24
D Jamie McBain (Jr), 5-19-24
F Patrick Johnson (So), 8-13-21

Top Goalie:
Shane Connelly (Sr), 15-16-5, 2.44 GAA

Key Additions:
F Derek Stepan (Shattuck), 42-62-104
F Matt Thurber (USHL), 14-41-55
F Jordy Murray (Shattuck), 38-57-95
F Chris Hickey (USHL), 15-16-31
D Jake Gardiner (MN HS), 20-28-48
D Eric Springer (USHL), 8-23-31
D Ryan Little (USHL), 2-11-13

08/09 Thoughts: Can the team play like they did during the NCAA Regional last March? If they can, there should be no reason why Wisconsin can’t finish in the top 5 of the WCHA and lock up an NCAA bid w/ out needing to sit on pins and needles on selection Sunday. We return a large group of junior forwards and they need to step up their play. We have the best overall group of defensemen (draft status wise), and if they play to their expectations our defense could dominate like it did back in 05/06. Connelly is solid in goal and Gudmandson will be pushing him making Shane even better. While the freshman class is not filled w/ 1st round stars like it was last Fall, I think this class top to bottom is just as solid, where all seven guys could contribute significantly during the season. W/ all the positives, big questions remain. Will the PP be horrible again? How long will it take for line combinations to mesh? Will the brutal schedule to start the season break our backs before we barely get out of the gates? Who is going to step up and score some goals?

When its all said and done, I think this team has a chance at bringing home Championship #7 next April in Washington DC. They have a lot of work to do to reach that goal. Right now, all I can say is DROP THE PUCK!