Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gophers lose backstabbing player

Well, sometimes you get whats coming to you. The saga of freshman forward/loser/liar Michael Dorr takes another twist with his recent departure from the University of Minnesucka. To understand this kid, I'll go ahead and refresh the last few years for you.

Dorr played high school hockey for Roseville and was a very good player. (He was a Mr. Hockey finalist) In the spring of his junior year, he committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. As his stock rose, Lucia pet decided he wanted to get in on the action and Dorr re-oppened his recruitment. (We all know he was chirping in his ear) It didn't take long before Dorr knob gave his verbal to Lucia pet. This season for the Gophers, Dorr has only appeared in 2 games and has not registered a point. Yesterday, Dorr walked into the practice facilities and told his team that he again, was bitching out on his team, and re-oppening his recruitment.

Whats my opinion on this? I'm glad you asked.

  • Well for starters, this kid is a baby. It's clear that hes a "ME" first type player and that's simply never going to change. I think there is quite a bit of difference when you commit to a school when your going into your freshman year, and you might opt out of your original commitment. But It's entirely different when your 17-18 years old. Dorr simply used his UMD commitment to leverage interest from Minnesota.
  • Second of all, classy move leaving your team half way through the season Dorr (Okposo). What do you honestly stand to gain by leaving at this point in the season? You obviously must have a great passion for the Gophers if your willing to quit on them at the first sign of trouble. (again, nice move Okposo, eyeroll)
  • Classy move by Don Lucia in stealing this kid away from UMD. Say what you want, but there is absolutely no way that Dorr re-oppens his recruitment without knowing that he has substantial interest from Minnesota. He would stand to gain absolutely nothing otherwise. Don definitely got what was coming to him in this scenario.
To wrap this all up, I really, really, really hope this kid doesn't try to come to Wisconsin. We don't need kids like that in our program. If he's too much of a baby to try and go out and fight for playing time, then we don't want him in Madison.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Eau Claire paper honors Jefferson Dahl

The Leader-Telegram of Eau Claire, WI has named Jefferson Dahl the Male Athlete of the Year. Jefferson won the 2008 Mr. Hockey award while leading EC Memorial to a perfect season and state championship. He has now taken his game to the next level w/ the Green Bay Gamblers where he has 8-5-13, 6th best on the team. Jefferson should be arriving in Madison in the Fall of 2010 as a member of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Not playing like Freshmen

Apparently College Hockey News either reads my thoughts or is just wise themselves as they see the freshman class as being a key to the Badgers success this season.

I was thinking about this during the break. Four freshman have been regulars in the lineup almost every night for the Badgers: Derek Stepan, Jordy Murray, Matt Thurber and Jake Gardiner. Ryan Little has played in the majority of the games, Eric Springer a few less, while Chris Hickey has seen the least action, he played well in Duluth helping the Badgers get 3 big road pts.

During the last two seasons, inconsistency has been used as the main reason why the Badgers struggled, and the finger then always pointed back to the youth on the roster. In the Fall of 2006 it was the huge class (mostly forwards) who are now juniors and in the Fall of 2007, another huge class was adding to the huge 2006 class, now sophomores . This year the team is a little older, while the senior class if very small, the junior class is huge and is providing some leadership. This team is still young though, but the freshmen aren't playing like freshmen.

Even the bad start to this season didn't have as much to do w/ youth as it did w/ a team that just couldn't quite pull all the pieces together for enough minutes in a game to get a win, especially on defense. During that bad start, Jordy Murray and Jake Gardiner started off strong. As the 1st half progressed, Derek Stepan started to catch fire (hasn't stopped yet) and Matt Thurber began contributing to the scoreboard. Ryan Little and Eric Springer keep getting stronger on the blue line. When I watch this group of kids on the ice, I don't get the feeling they are frosh, and that is comforting, knowing while they will still make mistakes they seem to be limited.

In 2006, it took the entire first half of the season for some of the frosh to finally find their place on the team and adjust to the WCHA. Jamie McBain had a nice second half that season, along w/ Aaron Bendickson (from an energy prespective) and Michael Davies (from a scoring prespective). Nigel Williams left town for the OHL early on, while Blake Geoffrion, John Mitchell, Ben Grotting and Andy Bohmbach struggled most of the season.

In 2007, the freshman fared better, yet the team struggled. Kyle Turris burst on the scene, but didn't make the dent in the WCHA most thought he would. I still think the Robert Morris series obscured his stats for the season. Patrick Johnson and Sean Dolan didn't take too long to find their individual niche on the team. Scott Gudmandson found himself in net for a few games. On the blue line, Ryan McDonagh and Cody Goloubef adjusted as the season went on, while Brendan Smith struggled and Craig Johnson did a good job in his own end when given the chance.

While the 2008 freshmen class doesn't have the big names like the 2007 class, overall their impact to the team at the half way point has been more significant, and I only see them all getting better as they see more ice time and opportunities arise to help the team succeed.

Coach Eaves had a nice quote from the article on why recruits choose Wisconsin over other recruiting powerhouses like minnesota, Michigan and New Hampshire:

“The biggest selling point for kids is the campus and academics,” he said. “The lakes and the rolling hills of the campus is a beautiful sight. Secondly, the tradition that Wisconsin hockey has. The program has six championships in the modern era and the pride we have along with the Kohl Center is a lot of fun. Playing in front of the crowd is a memorable thing for a lot of the kids here.”

The 2009 class looks very promising as well as recent verbals like John Ramage and breakout seasons like Craig Smith's have me excited already. Justin Schultz, Derek Lee, Tyler Barnes and Keegan Meuer aren't too bad either. We might even see Mark Zengerle come in early depending upon how things shake out.

Gandalf's (un)biased All-Tourney Team

In Todd's Ice House post, he listed the all-tourney team for the Badger Hockey Showdown. It's as follows:

Forwards: John Mitchell, UW; Zach MacVoy, LSSU; Troy Schwab, LSSU.
Defensemen: Jamie McBain, UW; Simon Gysbers, LSSU.
Goaltender: Shane Connelly, UW.
Most outstanding player: Connelly.

My all-tourney team is slightly different and prehaps very biased:

Forwards: Aaron Bendickson, UW; Andy Bohmbach, UW; Tom Gorowsky, UW
Defensemen: Jamie McBain, UW; Jake Gardiner, UW
Goaltender: Shane Connelly, UW

Sure Bendickson never cracked the scoresheet this weekend, but he was a presence every shift all weekend long. He was so close to scoring a goal several times, but he just did everything well all weekend. Bohmbach was great saturday and continued that last night, while Gorowsky chipped in both nights, w/ the shootout goal being the tourney winner. McBain and Gardiner both had nice weekends, Gardiner really stepped up (especially saturday) w/ Goloubef and McDonagh in Ottawa for the WJC. A GAA of 0.5 is a pretty good weekend for Connelly, who has allowed six goals in seven games since giving up six goals friday night at St. Cloud before Thanksgiving.

Badgers win Showdown

For the first time since 2005, the Wisconsin Badgers won their own holiday tourney defeating Lake Superior State in a shootout. The game was tied 1-1 after OT. While the game wasn't boring, all the scoring occurred late in the game. LSSU scored w/ about 3:30 left in regulation, which was promptly followed up by John Mitchell, who squeezed his own rebound past the LSSU netminder.

If fans remember last season's Showdown, in the 1st round against Colgate the Badgers failed to score in the shootout on 8 or so chances. Didn't take that long last night, as Tom Gorowsky lit the lamp on the first try. Brendan Smith and Michael Davies were the other skaters in the shootout for Wisconsin, but failed to convert. For LSSU, the post made the first two saves, and the third was a controversial call. On the ice, Brad Sheppard called it no goal, but it appears that Connelly made the save, but in doing so his whole glove went beyond the goal line. Foolishly, the video replay was turned off before the shootout, so the call on the ice stood and the Badgers won. Connelly felt he made the save w/ out the puck ever completely crossing the goal line.

Tough way for the game to end for LSSU, I thought they played great all night. They brought there best effort the entire evening, and at times really out worked the Badgers. Their sub .500 record might not show it, but they were great opponent. I would like to give a some praise to UAH as well on saturday night, they didn't generate much offense, but they came to play and gave a great effort. Best of luck to both teams the rest of the season.

One other thing off note, following Sheppard's call of no goal, the team raced onto the ice to celebrate the victory. I was not expecting this, I would have sworn they just won the Final Five or something. It was great to see and I think it bodes very well for the rest of the season. The team is excited about success, but following their start they aren't taking anyone lightly.

Lastly, I think the Badgers are the only team to have a seven game winless streak (0-6-1 to start) and a seven game unbeaten streak (6-0-1 in their last seven) in the same season, at least INCH hinted at this several weeks back.

Some reading:
TCT (Milewski) - Shootout brings UW a title
Ice House - Gameday post
WSJ (Baggot) - Extra effort worth the wait - UW takes Showdown title

Mid-Season Awards Recap

And the winners are...

Top Frosh (Men): Jake Gardiner - it was a close vote, winning by one over Derek Stepan. Both have been outstanding this season, congrats to Jake on his first goal saturday night.

Top Frosh (Women): Brooke Ammerman - she won going away, and deservedly so, she is the freshman sensation afterall.

Most Improved (Men): Tom Gorowsky - another close vote beating Ben Grotting, Tom has really turned things around and should continue to be a go to player on offense the rest of the season.

MVP (Women): Jessie Vetter - hard to argue when she has the best GAA and save % in the country, along w/ breaking the all-time NCAA shut out record w/ a lot of games left to play to set the bar to an unreachable level.

MVP (Men): Jamie McBain - another great choice by the fans, he notched another goal and assist on saturday to continue his lead in assists and points for the Badgers. Keep it up McB, the fans want to see some All-American honors fall on your shoulders at season's end.

We'll revisit these awards at the end of the season, see who brings their best in the second half. I think both the Men's and Women's teams have legitimate chances at their respective Frozen Four's this season, keep up the good work!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Keeping up with Brian Elliott, Brad Winchester

Brian Elliott earned his 16th win of the season with a 4-1 victory over Hershey as he continues to lead the AHL in wins this season. He made 43 saves on 44 SOG. Last night's performance moved him from 10th to 5th in the league for SV% with a SV% of .924.

By the way, we neglected to previously mention that Elliott earned his first shutout of the season earlier this month in a 3-0 victory over Albany, stopping all of the River Rats' 33 shots.

Elliott has been in goal for a majority of Binghampton's games, as he is being prepped for his future with the Ottawa Senators. He has played 27 games, compared to Jeff Glass's 9 games.

Brad Winchester scored the game-tying goal and the deciding shooutout goal (on his 1st shootout attempt of the season!) to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 (SO) victory over the San Jose Sharks last night. In case you were wondering, Joe Pavelski was held off the scoresheet.

Winchester must like playing against San Jose, as he scored 2 goals in his last game against them in the 5-4 loss on Dec. 13.

After a less-than-spectacular start to the season, Winchester has come on strong lately. With just 6 pts in 13 games with Peoria (AHL) to start the season and just 1 assist in his first 10 games with St. Louis, Winchester has scored 5 goals in his last 7 games.

Badgers 5 - Chargers 0

Since Chuck was kind enough to post game updates last night, you already know the results of the game. Just thought I'd provide a few links to the game stories:

uwbadgers: Badgers charge past UAH
Milewski (Icehouse): Gameday Blog
Milewski (TCT): Badger Men's Hockey: Identity comes into focus in victory
Baggot (WSJ): Connelly, UW overwhelm Alabama-Huntsville
Worgull (BN): No oxidation for Wisconsin
Stewart (Milwaukee JS): Junior forward helps UW take control

I was somewhat amused to see the title of good ol' Todd's article this morning. Todd probably won't believe me, but last night I was thinking to myself that this team seems to be jelling and appears to have found its identity. They're a complete team, and they can get scoring from all 4 lines. They seem to have found some resiliency and are able to respond to and overcome advesity -- as evidenced by their responses to recent injuries to Geoffrion, Gardiner, Grotting, P. Johnson, etc. And best of all -- last night I felt like they were playing 60 minutes, no alibis, no regrets . . .

If you're interested in the early game yesterday, here are the game stories:
Milewski (TCT): Lake Superior State continues Showdown semifinal Success
Baggot (WSJ): Lake Superior State cruises

Today in Badger Hockey History: Mike Valley


Goaltender Mike Valley had 40 saves against Vermont to move into a tie for second place for most saves in a single game at the Bank One Badger Hockey Showdown.

-- From

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Webcast vs Alabama-Huntsville

If your at home and are looking for the direct link to the Webcast of tonight's game, you can find it here. Wisconsin is currently up 1-0 after the first period. John Mitchell scored with an assist from you guessed it, Jamie McBain...again. Shots were 18-4 in the first period.

Update: 2-0 Wisconsin after 2 periods. Jordy Murray from Little and Stepan. Pat Johnson is in the locker room with a leg injury. Wisconsin is clearly dominating this game. UAH is embarrassingly bad. UAH goalie with 1,349 saves after 2. (or 38, same thing)

3-0 Wisconsin. Andy Bohmbach from Davies and Smith.

4-0 Wisconsin. Jake Gardiner gets his first goal of the season. Gorowsky I believe Bohmbach had an assist.

5-0 Wisconsin. Jamie McBain gets the Wisconsin fan's Ice Cream from Culvers. Gorowsky and Bohmbach with assists again. UAA switches goalies, I'm not sure why, Talbot is the only reason this game isn't 12-0. I think Talbot finished with 50 saves, no joke.
Final score is 5-0 Wisconsin. According to Bucky15 on USCHO, Wisconsin set a new Badger record tonight for the fewest shots allowed in a game tonight with only 10. No word yet on Wisconsins total shots as the webcast cut out right before the buzzer. (Edit from 60: I can help you out here, Chuck. Wisconsin had 60 (60!!) SOG. Nice! )

Bohmbach was the player of the game with a goal and 2 helpers. He also had the puck on his stick A LOT and was making things happen.

Photo taken by REDHEAT

Around the WCHA Dec 27-30

Last weekend:

CC tied and won while hosting Sacred Heart
Michigan Tech swept N. Michigan, go Huskies!

In other news, it appears Tech has decided to go w/ goalie Josh Robinson instead of Rob Nolan. I don't think that will help them get out of the basement this season, but a good decision going forward. Also, Denver forward Tyler Bozak had knee surgery and will be out until the playoffs. Disappointing news for Pioneer fans, Bozak is one of the best in the WCHA.

This weekend there are three holidays tourney and a monday/tuesday series for WCHA teams. The standings haven't changed, so if you are interested in them, take a look here.

Badger Hockey Showdown: You know the teams, Wisconsin finally wins it again.

Florida College Classic: St. Cloud vs Cornell, Colgate vs Maine; I think St. Cloud takes 3rd, they choke in tournament format don't they?

Great Lakes Invitational: Michigan vs Michigan Tech, North Dakota vs Michigan State; North Dakota is riding pretty high right now, so I think they take the tourney, while Tech takes 3rd place.

Mankato travels east and plays Princeton (monday) and Yale (tuesday). I want them to sweep, but I think they split.

Badger fans, there is nothing wrong w/ cheering for our WCHA foes when in non-conference action. It helps Wisconsin when other WCHA schools get those wins. Of course, I would never ask a Wisconsin fan to cheer for minnesota, they are the exception.

It's (not actually) Friday, I'm in Love

Ok, so Friday has come and gone, but nonetheless it's a Badger Hockey Weekend, as the Badger Men host the Badger Hockey Showdown at the KC. (The Badger Women are still off this weekend.)

4 PM - LSSU v. Harvard
7 PM - UW v. UAH

4 PM - UAH v. LSSU/Harvard
7 PM - UW v. LSSU/Harvard

As Todd so nicely pointed out, the field at the Showdown is not necessarily the strongest. I find this somewhat disappointing; as a kid, I remember going to the Showdown in MKE. I only went a couple times and I wasn't necessarily the brightest kid, and as you may know my memory is somewhat less-than-stellar -- but I remember the Showdown as usually having a pretty good field, and it was always exciting when the Badgers won. To be fair, there weren't as many holiday tournaments back then, so it was probably quite a bit easier to get elite teams for the Showdown. But I'm disappointed nonetheless.

It might be a bit premature to talk about PWR, but I may as well point out that it's fairly important for the Badgers to do well in these non-conference games (as well as next weekend's games v. Northern Michigan), especially given their previous non-conference losses to BU and UNH. None of these teams, including Northern, are having stellar seasons.

UAH has won 3 games all season, including an exhibition victory over Tennessee (Tennessee?) and victories over Yale (they lost 6-0 to Yale the following night, btw) and Bemidji. Lake State's last win was on 11/21 v. Robert Morris; since then they are 0-4-3. Harvard's last win was on 11/15 v. SLU; since then they are 0-4-2.

Sure, the Badgers record this season isn't great, but unlike the above teams, the Badgers have been doing pretty darn well recently, going 9-1-1 in their last 11 games. So one would sure have to hope that they wouldn't disappoint us this weekend. I hope the boys didn't eat too much turkey this week; it seems like the Badgers have had a tendency to start the Showdown a bit sluggishly over the past few years.

By the way, the Badgers will be missing defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Cody Goloubef, as both are representing their countries in the IIHF WJC. I don't believe that the other 3 teams have any players at the WJC. (Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Missing 2 players isn't all that bad; it could be a lot worse. Gardiner is back from his injury, and Springer/Little/C. Johnson have all proved to be reliable D-men, so I think we should be fine.)

Anwyay, here's the stuff you're really looking for in this post:

Geoffrion may or may not play; here's the expected lineup if he doesn't:

Andy Bohmbach-Aaron Bendickson-Tom Gorowsky
Jordy Murray-Derek Stepan-Michael Davies
John Mitchell-Sean Dolan-Grotting
Patrick Johnson-Matt Thurber-Podge Turnbull

Brendan Smith-Jamie McBain
Ryan Little-Eric Springer
Jake Gardiner-Craig Johnson
Tom Gorowsky won the shootout this week and is the second repeat winner. (Brendan Smith has also won twice.) Unlike last season where winning seemed to be a bit of a jinx, shootout winners actually seem to score some points in the subsequent series.

Game Day Coverage
TV: Sunday only, FSN live and WPT tape-delay
video webstream: Saturday only according to uwbadgers game preview and game notes, but I don't see a video link yet
radio: WTSO 1070 Saturday, WIBA 1310 Sunday, yahoosports ($4.95/mo) both nights (for some reason, it's not listed if you search all teams by sport, but it's listed if you search by team)
livestats: see Badger Gameday page

Tournament Previews
uwbadgers: 'Tis the season for the Showdown, Game Notes
lssulakers: Lakers to make third Badger Hockey Showsdown appearance
gocrimson: Crimson in Wisconsin for Badger Hockey Showdown, Game Notes
McLauglin (Hunstville Times): UAH ready to get back at it after time off
Milewski (Icehouse): A field to forget?
Milewski (Icehouse): A few (more) short
Milewski (TCT): Wisconsin Badgers Men's Hockey in Badger Hockey Showdown
Milewski (TCT): UW hopes to avoid three-peat of Showdown title shutouts
Baggot (Badger Blog): Eyeing the competition (2nd-half of the post)
Baggot (WSJ): Wait over for three defensemen (page 2)
uscho: Badger Hockey Showdown Preview
chn: Tale of the Tape -- UW v. UAH, Harvard v. LSSU, UW v. Harvard/LSSU, UAH v. Harvard/LSSU

Other Articles
Baggot (WSJ): Wait over for three defensemen (Springer, Little, Johnson)
redwingscentral: Smith playing "more like a defenseman"
uwbadgers: North to Alaska . . . and back again (Craig Johnson, was in last game program, now on
chn: The Power of Four (officiating in the WCHA)

Another Interesting Note
Apparently while I've been living under a rock for the past several weeks, Sebastian Geoffrion has committed to tonight's opponent. When did this happen, and how did I miss this? (He committed 12/12 per Heisenberg; Heisenberg doesn't speculate regarding how I missed it.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

USA 8 - GER 2 / CAN 8 - CZE 1

I didn't get the chance to watch either game today, but both USA and Canada were victorious in their first preliminary games. As you know, Badger defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Cody Goloubef are playing for Team USA and Team Canada, each wearing #17 for their respective countries.

USA 8 - GER 2
James van Riemsdyk (UNH) and Drayson Bowman scored 2 goals each, and Jordan Schroeder (Minn), Colin Wilson (BU), Matt Rust (Mich), and Tyler Johnson each chipped in a goal for Team USA. Ryan McDonagh, who started on D for Team USA, had an assist and finished +2.

Recaps: usahockey, iihf

CAN 8 - CZE 1
John Tavares scored a pair of goals, and Zach Boychuck, Angelo Esposito, Chris Di Domenico, Tyler Ennis, Ryan Ellis, and Alex Pietrangelo each chipped in a goal for Team Canada. Cody Goloubef had 2 SOG and finished +2.

Looking at Canada's roster, Goloubef appears to be the only NCAA player on the roster. It's not surprising to see major juniors players make the roster preferentially over NCAA players, but I was surprised to see just 1 NCAA player. (To be honest, I don't know the breakdown from previous years, so I'm not sure how this compares to previous rosters.) Regardless, it's a nice accomplishment for Goloubef to be the sole NCAA representative on the team.

Recaps: hockeycanada, iihf

Next up:
USA v. CZE -- Sun, Dec 28, 6:30 PM CST (televised live on the NHL Network)
CAN v. KAZ -- Sun, Dec 28, 2:30 PM CST (televised live on the NHL Network)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Badger Men by the Numbers

The second half of the season starts in a few short days, but before that begins let's take a look at how the first half of the season stacked up in comparison to our WCHA foes. The following stats are borrowed from College Hockey Stats.
Scoring Offense:                Games   Goals     G/GM
1 Denver 14 53 3.79
2 Wisconsin 14 49 3.50
3 Minnesota State 14 41 2.93
4 Minnesota 12 35 2.92
North Dakota 12 35 2.92
6 St. Cloud State 12 33 2.75
7 Colorado College 14 37 2.64
Minnesota Duluth 14 37 2.64
9 Alaska Anchorage 12 29 2.42
10 Michigan Tech 14 18 1.29
Overall Wisconsin is ranked in a tie for 10th in the nation.
Scoring Defense:                Games   Goals     G/GM
1 Minnesota 12 23 1.92
2 Minnesota Duluth 14 31 2.21
3 Denver 14 32 2.29
4 Colorado College 14 37 2.64
5 St. Cloud State 12 35 2.92
6 Wisconsin 14 41 2.93
7 Alaska Anchorage 12 37 3.08
8 North Dakota 12 38 3.17
9 Minnesota State 14 46 3.29
10 Michigan Tech 14 47 3.36
Wisconsin continues to climb in this category. After the 0-6-1 start the Badgers goals/game sat at 4.71 overall, now its 2.89 including non-conference.
Penalty Minutes:                Games    PIM     PIM/G
1 Wisconsin 14 341 24.4
2 Minnesota Duluth 14 283 20.2
3 Alaska Anchorage 12 238 19.8
4 Minnesota State 14 273 19.5
5 Minnesota 12 230 19.2
6 North Dakota 12 215 17.9
7 Denver 14 250 17.9
8 St. Cloud State 12 202 16.8
9 Colorado College 14 221 15.8
10 Michigan Tech 14 214 15.3
Not much different than nationally where Wisconsin ranks 2nd.
Power Play:                    Totals    SHA       PCT
1 Wisconsin 21/ 88 3 23.9
2 Minnesota Duluth 20/ 89 1 22.5
3 Minnesota 15/ 76 2 19.7
4 Minnesota State 16/ 84 2 19.0
5 Colorado College 16/ 98 3 16.3
6 North Dakota 14/ 89 4 15.7
7 Denver 13/103 1 12.6
8 St. Cloud State 8/ 71 2 11.3
9 Alaska Anchorage 6/ 62 1 9.7
10 Michigan Tech 7/ 86 3 8.1
Look who's in first? Amazing what Jamie McBain and Brendan Smith can do for a PP on the blue line. Not that the first unit (generally comprised of Gorowsky, Stepan and Geoffrion) hasn't done its job as well. 12th best PP in the nation.
Penalty Kill:                  Totals    SHF       PCT
1 Minnesota 78/ 82 1 95.1
2 Wisconsin 94/103 3 91.3
3 Denver 75/ 85 4 88.2
4 Colorado College 78/ 89 2 87.6
5 North Dakota 59/ 72 3 81.9
6 Minnesota Duluth 67/ 82 2 81.7
7 St. Cloud State 48/ 60 2 80.0
8 Minnesota State 79/100 3 79.0
9 Alaska Anchorage 70/ 90 2 77.8
10 Michigan Tech 62/ 83 0 74.7
During the first seven games, the team's PK was 86.67%, while in the last eleven it has risen to 92.96%. No doubt the PK has been awesome and a few of the PP goals allowed during the last few games have come on 5x3 situtations. Had the team's % not improved, the Badgers would have allowed roughly 4 or 5 more goals since turning things around. 13th nationally.
Combined Special Teams:           Totals           PCT
1 Wisconsin 115/191 60.2
2 Minnesota 93/158 58.9
3 Minnesota State 95/184 51.6
4 Minnesota Duluth 87/171 50.9
5 Colorado College 94/187 50.3
6 Alaska Anchorage 76/152 50.0
7 Denver 88/188 46.8
8 North Dakota 73/161 45.3
9 St. Cloud State 56/131 42.7
10 Michigan Tech 69/169 40.8
This needs to continue, its 4th best in all the land.
Special Teams Net:           PPF   SHA    PP    PPA   SHF    SH    NET
1 Wisconsin 21 3 +18 9 3 -6 +12
2 Minnesota 15 2 +13 4 1 -3 +10
3 Denver 13 1 +12 10 4 -6 +6
Minnesota Duluth 20 1 +19 15 2 -13 +6
5 Colorado College 16 3 +13 11 2 -9 +4
6 North Dakota 14 4 +10 13 3 -10 0
7 Minnesota State 16 2 +14 21 3 -18 -4
St. Cloud State 8 2 +6 12 2 -10 -4
9 Alaska Anchorage 6 1 +5 20 2 -18 -13
10 Michigan Tech 7 3 +4 21 0 -21 -17
I'm pretty impressed by this based on how the season started for the Badgers. The special teams have been great and need to continue their hot play.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Craig Smith garners USHL weekly award

Craig's two goal, two assist preformance last saturday paved the way for him to be named USHL Offensive Player of the Week.

Craig has back to back four point games, and is now 3rd in the league in scoring.

Rockford/Chicago Badgers . . . & Dan Plante!

As previously mentioned, nubeetle and I hopped down to Chicago on Sunday to see Jake Dowell and Jack Skille with the Rockford Icehogs and Alex Brooks and Don Granato (head coach) with the Chicago Wolves. The Wolves won 4-1. Skille had the lone goal for the Icehogs. Dowell started on LW for the Hogs. Alex Brooks did not play.

Rockford has been a bit streaky this season -- they started the season really well (7-1), then had a 5-game losing streak (the last being a SO loss that nubeetle and I attended), then won 9 of their next 13 games, and now have lost their last 3 games. As a whole, the team just didn't look very good on Sunday. Jack Skille had a decent game, scoring a nice goal and generating a couple of nice chances. He had 4 SOG and finished -1. Dowell had a decent game as well -- did some nice work on the PK (had a nice blocked shot and some nice clears). He had 2 SOG and we think he might've clanged the pipe on a shot as well. He finished -1, but I gotta tell ya, that goal he was on the ice for had nothing to do with him -- defenseman Mike Brennan made a stupid pass in front of the net, defenseman Jordan Hendry mishandled the puck and turned it over, and not surprisingly the Wolves capitalized. (Hendry, in particular, had a brutal game for the Hogs.)

While we were there, nubeetle and I had the pleasure of chatting briefly with Dan Plante before the game. Plante played 3 seasons at forward for the Badgers ('90-'93) and served as an alternate captain his last year. He had just 3 points in his 33 games as a freshman, but he really stepped things up the next 2 years, scoring 15 G and 16 A in 40 games as a sophomore and 26 G and 31 A in 42 games as a junior. Nice! As a sophomore he was a member of the Final Five All-Tourney Team, and he received the Badgers Most-Improved Player Award. And let's not forget that his 26 goals as a junior tied him with Jason Zent for most goals that season!

A 3rd round draft pick of the New York Islanders, Plante went on to play 5 seasons in the Islanders' organization, including 2 seasons ('95-'96, '96-'97) in which he played exclusively in NY. He then went on to play 4 seasons ('98-'02) for the Chicago Wolves, helping the Wolves win a Turner Cup in 2000 and a Calder Cup in 2002. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention (gasp) that Plante played for Team USA in 1996 and 1997, winning a bronze medal in the '96 World Ice Hockey Championships in Vienna.

Plante is now the president of Northwest Sports, a sports agency based out of Woodbury, MN.

Nubeetle and I also had the pleasure of chatting with Don Granato after the game. Don Granato, of course, was a member of my beloved 1990 Championship Team. I regret that I don't have time to tell you more about him right now (hopefully I'll get a lengthier Granato post up sometime in the near future), but let me point out that he was recently named head coach of the PlanetUSA Team at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic in Worcester, MA on January 26. Congratualations, Don!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cepis denies Wisconsin transfer rumors

If it sound too good to be true, it usually is. Blog vulture Andy Baggot spoke with Jake Cepis who had been rumored to have possible interest in Wisconsin after leaving the Bowling Green program late last week. Cepis denied that he had spoken with Wisconsin and for all intents and purposes acknowledged that It's not realistic that he will be playing in the Badger state.

Being a 21 year old sophomore, I would expect Cepis to sign a minor league deal and head to the ECHL. Whoever his blowhard advisor is, needs to be fired. Usually you try to sign a contract when your maximizing your potential earning ablility, not because you are desperate for a contract.

Photo from the Bowling Green Falcons official website

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Craig Johnson featured on

If you are looking to learn more about Craig Johnson's journey to becoming a Badger, check out this article from

“It kind of happened suddenly. I wasn’t really producing any points at the beginning of the year, but then after Christmas I just went on a tear. The puck was just finding the net. I started getting calls from UMD, Denver and Colorado College. Duluth came to watch me in Iowa, we talked and they said they were looking for a defenseman.

“They didn’t really pursue anything. I came back up to Alaska and heard Joe Piskula might be going pro and Wisconsin might be looking for a defenseman to walk on. I think assistant coach Kevin Patrick called two days later. He told me he wanted to move fast on it and we went from there. Six days later, I was a Badger. It happened pretty quick. It was a dream come true. I think the first jersey I ever wore playing hockey was a Badger jersey.”

I didn't know much about Craig before reading this (not much info out there); prefect timing too since w/ the WJC, he'll get a chance to play the next four games on the blue line. I became a fan of Craig last year during the WJC when he filled in for Jamie McBain. Nothing flashy, but plays well in his own end. W/ all the early departures possibly in the next few offseasons, Craig should see some significant ice time as an upperclassman.

Props for Goloubef

The following Prospects Report has some great things to say about Cody Goloubef heading into the WJC.

Cody Goloubef-D- Team Canada is loaded with talent from the three major branches of the Canadian Hockey League: the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. However, Goloubef managed to earn a spot on the roster as the lone representative of the NCAA. Goloubef scored four goals and 10 points in 40 games for the University of Wisconsin last season. However, those moderate offensive totals don't begin to tell the full story. Goloubef was the second-youngest player in the NCAA last season and he was playing on a squad that prioritizes defense and doesn't like gambling offensively.

Goloubef would call himself an offensive defenseman, and he has the skills to back up that claim. He's a strong and fluid skater who enjoys getting involved in the rush. He has strong offensive instincts and a good shot. Goloubef isn't an overly physical player, but he also isn't afraid to use his body when necessary. He's a good two-way player who could develop into a great power-play point man in the NHL. Playing for Wisconsin has allowed Goloubef to fly under the radar a bit, but he's someone to watch closely in the upcoming World Junior Championship. If he is given enough ice time to show what he can do, he could turn some heads in this year's tournament.

I heartily agree w/ this assessment of young Cody. He has had the quietest best season of all the Badger blue liners. McDonagh and McBain get all the attention, but Goloubef isn't too far behind them.

Mid-Season Awards: MVP (Men)

Last mid-season award to be decided here on the blog, MVP of the Men's team. Things looked pretty dire seven games into the season, and then a lot of pieces started to fall into play for the Badgers. The following four players were all big parts of that transformation to this point in one way or another.

Blake Geoffrion - On November 1st during the 3rd period against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Blake had two huge goals to contribute to a five goal 3rd, and the team hasn't looked back since. Blake added two goal games later against Tech and Duluth on consecutive weekends. When Ben Street went down w/ a possible season ending knee injury, the captain's duties fell squarely on Blake's shoulders, and he has lead the team since that point w/ great play in all facets of the game from EV to PP and PK. Blake leads the team in goals (8), PP goals (6) and is 4th in points (11). He also boasts a nice faceoff win % of 55.4%.

Shane Connelly - Shane' start to the season was very similar to the team's, a struggle. He wasn't getting a lot of help in front of the net, and the number of shots he was facing were unrealistic, especially for a Wisconsin team. As the season turned around, the number of shots, especially high quality shots dropping off, and Shane has been the backbone of the team in net. His overall stats are 2.65 GAA, w/ a 91.4% save %. In his last ten starts though, Shane GAA is down to 1.90 w/ two shutouts, and if you take out the six goal lapse against St. Cloud, he is down to 1.44 GAA roughly. There is still room for Shane to improve, making that one extra save, but if he keeps playing like this, I like Wisconsin's chances come March.

Jamie McBain - Similar to everyone else, Jamie had a bad start to the season. He was trying to do too much, and hindered the team in the process. When he settled down, great things occurred including great defense and outstanding offensive contributions. For most of the season, the PP has been rolling along making opponents pay for a trip to the box, and Jamie has been the main QB running the show. He leads the team in points (19) and assists (16). He is still last in +/- (-12), but a lot of that was racked up early on, and slowly he is bringing that number down. Jamie is tied for 1st in the WCHA in points and 1st in assists. He keeps this up, All-American honors should be coming his way.

Tom Gorowsky - What a story Tom is this season. Not only did he not play in the first four games of the season, he didn't even make the trips w/ the team. Everything changed when Ben Street and Aaron Bendickson were injuried and a forward spot needed to be filled; insert Tom Gorowsky. Tom is the feel good story of the Wisconsin season ever since. I continue to wonder why he wasn't in the lineup consistently the last few seasons? Tom's best in a scoring role, and his time on the top two lines and on the PP have shown that he can contribute on the scoreboard. Tom is tied for 3rd in goals (5), is 3rd in PP goals (3) and tied 5th in points (10). I'd argue that Tom's insertion into the lineup following Street's injury was the senior leadership the team needed. I look forward to seeing how the rest of Tom's Badger career plays out over the next few months.

Mark Zengerle, 1st Star

I'm not sure how many times Mark Zengerle has been first star in a BCHL game since committing to play at Wisconsin, but I'm guessing at least a half dozen. On friday night he did it again, leading Salmon Arm to another victory (I think their 10th in a row), earning 1st star w/ a goal and two assists. He followed that performance up last night w/ the exact same stat line (1-2-3), but in a loss. Mark is still 2nd in scoring in the BCHL, though quickly approaching the top spot. He does lead in pts/game w/ 2.1. I found a little "meet the players" on the Silverbacks website. Scroll all the way down and you'll find Mark Zengerle #88.

Elsewhere, Justin Schultz had an assist on the GW goal in OT on friday night to lift the Westside Warriors to victory. Derek Lee did not crack the scoresheet this weekend for the Victoria Grizzles.

Bill McCoshen on Matt Paape, Cody Strang

Gandalf's Much Needed Recruit Update has inspired me to finally write a bit more about a couple of other future Badgers, Matt Paape (whose name Gandalf intentionally pronounces incorrectly because he knows it bugs me) and Cody Strang. This is a long time coming, as way back in September I had the pleasure of speaking with Team Wisconsin GM Bill McCoshen about the boys but never got around to posting his remarks -- my excuse at the time (in addition to being quite busy myself) was that there was a ton of other Badger news happening, and anything I wrote about Paape/Strang would get buried. I have no such excuse now.

So, without further ado, here's what McCoshen had to say:
Cody Strang and Matt Paape are two of the top high school players in
Wisconsin. Both players are highly skilled and they have the ability to
completely control the game when they are on the ice. I would not be
surprised if one of them wins the Mr. Hockey award at the end of the
WIAA season.

Cody and Matt have been part of Team Wisconsin for the past three years.
They continue the tradition of players staying home and playing for
their high school while gaining high level development and exposure as
members of Team Wisconsin. The Badgers have been watching them closely
over the past year. I expect them to be big contributors for the
Badgers after some time in the USHL."
Thanks again to Bill McCoshen for taking the time to chat and for sharing his remarks.

I was going finish this post with a few links for those of you who (like me) are all fired-up again about Paape and Strang but (again like me) whose recollections are a bit fuzzy due to all the talk about more recent commits. Unfortuantely (or fortunately from my standpoint), I gotta finish getting ready and head down to Madison, as nubeetle has graciously agreed to take me to Chicago with him to see the Wolves v. Icehogs. In case it slipped your mind, Badger Don Granato is head coach of the Wolves, Badger Alex Brooks plays for the Wolves, and Badgers Jake Dowell and Jack Skille play for the Icehogs. Go BADGERS!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Huge Night for Waterloo Badger Hawks

The Waterloo Blackhawks laid the smack down on Indiana tonight 10-3. Waterloo's friday night game was postponed due to weather.

Craig Smith had 2 goals and 2 assists, Tyler Barnes and Keegan Meuer each had a goal and 2 assists. Smith was 1st star and Meuer was 3rd star. Nice work guys can't wait to have you in the Cardinal and White next Fall!

Also, the USHL website currently has a poll on who of the current top 10 scorers will reign supreme at season's end. If interested scroll down to the bottom of their site and vote for Craig Smith.

Up in Green Bay this weekend, the Gamblers hosted Sioux City for a pair of games. Damn the weather, I would have been there tonight if not for old man winter continue his onslaught. My complaints aside, Jefferson Dahl had a nice weekend. On friday he scored the Gamblers only goal, while tonight he added an assist. Neither Sean Little (GB) nor Chase Drake (SC) dented the score sheet.

As wojo pointed out in 60's Aaron Crandall post, he got shelled on friday night. Luckily tonight's game for Des Moines was postponed.

All WCHA Mid-Season

For what it's worth, INCH has done a mid-season reivew for the WCHA. They list Wisconsin as the surprise team.

It's easy to pick Wisconsin's first-half travails as the biggest surprise thus far, but it's legitimate for fans to ask just which Badgers we're talking about. Is it the team that spent October unable to win, and started 0-6-1? That team was a mess, with defensemen trying to carry too much of the offensive load, inconsistent goaltending and offense that wasn't doing enough. Or are we talking about the "since then" Badgers, who headed to the holiday break on a 9-1-1 tear and even spent a week in first place in the WCHA. These Badgers are simply better in every area, and are enjoying the comforts of home while playing with a confidence that may make them college hockey's in-season comeback story of the year.

Jamie McBain is given some recognition on the 1st half All WCHA team.

Let him do what he can do best – namely play rock-solid defense and create scoring opportunities from the blue line – and the results are magic. Rely on him to do everything and you have trouble.

I think that is a pretty good assessment of Jamie's season. To start off he tried to do everything and didn't look good. When he just did his job and let his teammates do their's, he has been wildly successful.

Earlier this week, I put together my own list of All-WCHA to this point in the season.

F - Ryan Stoa - um
F - Justin Fontaine - Duluth
F - Chad Rau - CC
D - Jamie McBain - Wisconsin
D - Josh Meyers - Duluth
G - Alex Wangas - um

Stoa, Fontaine, Rau and McBain are tied for the WCHA lead in points. Kurt Davis of Mankato is having a great season too, but Josh Meyers has 13 pts from the blue line on the PP, I'm remotely impressed. For goalie, I went on stats, and Wangas leads the WCHA. My next choice was Alex Stalock, who I actually dislike more than Wangas. How can two players ruin such a nice first name like Alexander?

The WCHA also has an impressive group of freshman this season. 1st half All-WCHA Frosh team:

F - Jordan Schroeder - um
F - Joe Colborne - Denver
F - Derek Stepan - Wisconsin
D - Patrick Wiercioch - Denver
D - Jake Gardiner - Wisconsin
G - Brad Eidsness - North Dakota

I'm a tad biased w /the Stepan pick, but based on his role at Wisconsin, I think he is derserving and will make the all rookie team when the dust settles in March. There have been some other fine performances by WCHA forwards including Jared Festler (St. Cloud), Luke Salazar (Denver) and Mike Louwerse (Mankato).

"A rejuvinated Aaron Crandall"

I don't think it would be unfair to say Badger fans have had some concerns about future Badger goaltender Aaron Crandall over the past year or so. In 32 games with Green Bay last season, he had a .882 SV% and 3.50 SV%. In 15 games with Des Moines this season, he has a .862 SV% and 4.66 GAA. Ouch. Of course, it's hard to say how much of his stats are a function of his performance and how much is a function of being on a couple of pretty bad teams. Green Bay finished last season at the bottom of the East Division with a 13-41-6 record, and Des Moines currently sits at the bottom of the East Division with a 5-14-3 record. Clearly it's hard to have good stats when playing for bad teams, but it's awfully hard to chalk it all up to the team, thus the concerns about his performance.

Therefore, I am quite pleased to post this blurb from the Des Moines Register. I know that Gandalf already posted a link in his fantastic recruit update, but I felt like pointing it out again this morning for those who may have missed it.
Rejuvinated Crandall lifts Bucs to another victory

Ryan Walters' even-strength goal 15:35 into the third period broke a tie and lifted Des Moines to a 2-1 U.S. Hockey League win over Sioux Falls before an announced crowd of 2,415 Saturday night at Buccaneer Arena.

J.P. Burkemper also scored on a power-play goal at the 18:43 mark of the first period for Des Moines (5-13-3), which has won two straight games.

Des Moines' Aaron Crandall made 32 saves in goal. The 18-year-old from Lakeville, Minn., has allowed 10 goals in his last four starts - three of them wins.

Coach J.P. Parise said Crandall, who has committed to play at Wisconsin, has been a different goalie.

"He had absolutely no confidence. We sent him home for a week to take some time with his main goaltending coach," Parise said. "Since he's been back, he's been back to calmness and reconfirmed that he has regained his skills."

"He's been outstanding the last four games."
Good to hear that Crandall seems to be getting back on track. I look forward to seeing how he plays throughout the second half of the season.

Since Crandall hasn't been much discussed lately, I thought I'd take this opportunity to refresh our memories . . .

Here's are Milewski's and Baggot's reports of Crandall's committment (Nov 2007).

A few fun quotes from Crandall:
"They're consistently one of the top teams in the country," Crandall said. "It's all pretty awesome."

"Everything just was awesome, the way they treat their players and all the help they give them," Crandall said. "It was just hard to turn down, I thought."

"If you look at just the goalies they've produced like (Mike) Richter and (Curtis) Joseph and (Brian) Elliott, there's been some studs," Crandall said. "That's obviously huge in the decision."

"I've heard a lot of really good things about coach Howard," Crandall said. "Look at some of the goalies that he's produced in the NHL. I don't see many better goalie coaches around."

Crandall said the opportunity to work with long-time Badgers goaltending coach Bill Howard "definitely factored into my decision big-time."

Obviously Bill Howard isn't around anymore, but I'm a big fan of Mike Valley as the new goaltending coach -- hopefully Crandall will be, too.

Both aforementioned reports point out that Crandall was one of the top prep goaltenders in Minnesota:

Baggot: Crandall, listed at 6-foot and 181 pounds, was one of the top prep goaltenders in Minnesota last season when he went 21-4-1 with a 1.33 goals against average, .930 save ratio and seven shutouts for St. Thomas Academy.

Milewski: Crandall, listed at 6-foot and 181 pounds, has been a part of some high-level experiences. Two years ago, he helped St. Thomas Academy of Mendota Heights, Minn., win the Minnesota Class A state championship. Last season, the Cadets finished third at state, and Crandall went 21-4-1 with a 1.51 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.

In August, Crandall played for the United States in the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia

When Crandall verballed, DPlaya had a nice little post on HIW in which he pointed out that Crandall had recently received USHL Goaltender of the Week honors and was the best goaltender statistically at the USA Hockey Select 17 Festival.

Last February, Crandall's player profile was featured on I'm not sure I can bring myself to call him the Crandallion Stallion, but I like his reasons for picking Wisconsin, and his advice for young players is interesting as it seems pretty apt for his current situation.

You're committed to the University of Wisconsin. What made it the right choice for you? There were many different factors that made the University of Wisconsin the right choice for me. To start off I was very impressed with their coaching staff. They were all very professional and all very passionate about UW Badger hockey and developing their players. Also, the facilities at Wisconsin were second to none and the WCHA is a premier league.

What advice do you give to young players? To always work hard at what they are doing, and to always be confident in their abilities even when times get rough. More importantly hockey is fun, so make sure to have fun playing it.

EDIT: I neglected to post links to a couple of posts that Chuck and Gandalf wrote earlier -- Chuck had a nice Aaron Crandall Recap this summer, and Gandalf had a nice Central Scouting post in Novermber, in which Crandall was listed as a "B" player to watch (a player scouts note if they are in the area, a potential selection in the third to fifth round in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft). No goaltenders were listed as "A" players.

Also, in October, the RLR said the following about Crandall:

"Showed overwhelming improvement from last year and is playing solid and disciplined in net, but still will give up an occasional weak one. Comes out and challenges and holds position well. Has above-average glove and is a decent puck handler.''

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mid-Season Awards: MVP (Women)

A few more awards to hand out yet, how about taking a look at the MVP for the Women's team. There are a lot of good choices here, and I'm probably going to be leaving someone out who is just as deserving, because I'm only giving four options. There are a lot of reasons the Badger Women have yet to lose a game this season, and here are some of the main contributors to that success.

Hilary Knight - Plain and simple, Hilary is the bomb! She has dominated the competition all season and half way through already has a hat trick and five goal free for all to her name. She leads the nation in goals, goals per game, PP goals and points. Sounds like NCAA Women's POY material, but we better let Hilary play out the rest of the games to further demonstrate how awesome she is at hockey. Stats: 22-17-39

Jessie Vetter - Arguably, Jessie is the greatest goaltender in Women's NCAA history. This season she broke and continues to set the record for career NCAA shutouts. Sure the defense in front of her does a great job limiting shots reaching the net, but Jessie is always stout facing them when they do. She leads the nation in GAA and save %. Good chance we'll see Jessie between the pipes for Team USA during the 2010 Olympics. Stats: 0.83 GAA, 0.957 Save %

Erika Lawler - The team captain is poised and ready to lead the Badger Women back to the NCAA championship game for the 4th consecutive season, this time bringing home the program's (and Erika's) 3rd National Championship. She does everything on the ice, and is true joy to watch. Erika is 2nd in the nation in points trailing only linemate Hilary Knight, and leads the nation in assists. Stats: 9-23-32

Brooke Ammerman - Brooke is having an outstanding freshman season for the Badgers. She has fit right in and made a difference from the first series of the year, and keeps getting better. When Mark Johnson rolls out Brooke and the 3rd EV line, no team really has a match for them. She has also been a strong contributor on the PP. Nationally, she is tied for 4th in points, is 2nd in goals behind Hilary Knight, but is tied for first in GW goals and points by a frosh. Stats: 20-10-30

Around the WCHA Dec 19 & 20

Last weekend was the last relatively full week in the WCHA until 2009. There are few non-conference games this weekend, and a bunch of holiday tourneys next weekend. Here are last week's results:

Denver swept Mankato
CC split w/ minnesota
North Dakota swept St. CLoud
Duluth took 3 pts from Michigan Tech

Wisconsin went into last weekend in 1st, but as expected they were surpassed by both Denver and minnesota. The Badgers sit in 3rd w/ CC, which isn't a bad spot considering the start. The only teams that beat up on Wisconsin in conference are ahead of them. The standings (lazy edition):

1 - Denver, 19 pts
2 - minnesota, 17 pts
3 - Wisconsin, 16 pts
3 - CC, 16 pts
5 - Duluth, 15 pts
6 - North Dakota, 13 pts
7 - Mankato - 12 pts
8 - St. Cloud - 10 pts
8 - UAA - 1o pts
10 - Michigan Tech - 4 pts

This weekend is pretty quiet.

CC hosts Sacred Heart - CC Sweep
Michigan Tech home & home w/ N. Michigan - Split
North Dakota hosts the US NTDP U18 Team in exhibition

Should mention that Badger recruit John Ramage and the U18's beat Michigan State the other night.

Cepis leaves Bowling Green, has possible UW interest

Jacob Cepis has left the Bowling Green Hockey program and is being linked with a possible transfer to Wisconsin.

The article says that Cepis was rumored to not be getting along with head coach Scott Paulach for over a year. "It's one of those things that if you're not happy, the game isn't fun for you," Cepis said. "At a certain point, you have to say it wasn't the right fit. That's the bottom line."

Cepis was in Madison last winter over the holidays with Bowling Green in the Badger Hockey Showcase. In case you don't remember him, picture Mike Davies with a little less talent but a little more grit.

If Cepis were to transfer to Wisconsin, he would have to sit out 1 season. If he transfers immediately for second semester, he would be available second semester next season, but next season will count for a full season of athletic eligibility.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

WJC on NHL Network

This is old news, but its a prefect time to post about it on the blog.

The NHL Network will be televising all of Team USA's games during the World Junior Championship, and in addition will cover all games during the medal round.

Even better, all of Team Canada's preliminary round games will be shown as well.

So, if you have the NHL Network, you can catch Cody Goloubef and Ryan McDonagh as they strive for gold staring December 26th.

Here is the preliminary round schedule.

Team USA Schedule:

Dec 26th - vs Germany
Dec 28th - vs Czech Republic
Dec 30th - vs Kazakhstan
Dec 31st - vs Canada

Team Canada Schedule:

Dec 26th - vs Czech Republic
Dec 28th - vs Kazakhstan
Dec 29th - vs Germany
Dec 31st - vs USA

Mid-Season Awards: Most Improved (Men)

Overall the Badger Men's hockey team has improved in a lot of areas from last season. These four players are a big part of that, generally for different reasons. There will not be a Women's award for most improved. Sorry, but this is my first season following the women in-depth, and stats don't tell the whole story one season to the next.

Tom Gorowsky - The question really is, is Tommy really improved or is he finallly getting the chance to show off his skills by being utilitzed by Coach Eaves? Since Ben Street's injury, Tom has been in the lineup, and he hasn't looked back. In a comparison to last season, Tom only played 17 games, while he has seen action in 14 already this season. Tom's a scorer, and is getting a chance to play in situations where he can score. I think Tom deserves more mid-season MVP consideration than most improved.

Ben Grotting - Last season it was John Mitchell that made a jump in his game play, and this year its his often time linemate Ben Grotting. Ben isn't going to rack up the stats, but he has been an effective player at EV all season. When playing w/ Mitchell and Matt Thurber, his line single handedly beat Michigan State. We also have to give props to Ben for laying the smack down on minnesota's Patricia "Whitey" White.

Brendan Smith - Well when you are at the bottom, the only place to go is up, and Brendan has improved in a big way. Last season was riddled w/ mistakes. His offensive skills were there, but his defensive skills weren't remotely ready for the WCHA. A back injury crippled the 2nd half of his season, but he has turned things around so far. I still see momentary relapses to last season's version, but Brendan has really improved his defensive play. On offense, he has a cannon from the point, and along w/ Jamie McBain, QB the 1st PP unit to great success this season. Sometimes I still think he is looking ahead to his next destination (AHL, NHL), instead of focusing on being a Wisconsin Badger.

Andy Bohmbach - The Bohmber is one of my favorite players on the team, and he is getting my vote. Last season, Andy didn't really get a chance until the 2nd half of the season. He did a great job on the 4th line providing energy and solid play, and was getting better every game. I figured he was on the border of being a regular this season, but he's only missed one game. Andy has done it all this season. Played on the 1st line, played on the 4th; played on the PP, regular on the PK. Overall, he has looked good doing all of these things. He's not a scorer, but already has a career high three goals. Its the things that don't appear on a scoresheet that separates Andy at times. One of the hardest working players on the ice.

Did I miss someone? Leave a comment if have a different choice.

Badger goals from recent weeks

Thanks to ICEBADGER on USCHO for posting these video's on You Tube. Here are goals from the Michigan game, and both Anchorage games.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Erika Lawler talks to the Big 10 Network

Senior forward and team Captain Erika Lawler recently was interviewed by the Big 10 Network. She talks about the great start to the season, the mid-season break and having Jessie Vetter backstopping the team.

I would like to see the Big 10 Network show some Women's hockey. Sure everyone wants to see the 1974 matchup between Michigan State and Purdue in football replayed 400 times while live Big 10 sports are occuring, but I think they could squeeze in Wisconsin vs minnesota or Ohio State instead of showing the review of Illinois' 2007 football season for the 7,542 time.

Pryor chooses Maine

In case you all were wondering where former 2009 defensive recruit Nick Pryor would end up, the winner is...Maine.

Pryor is currently playing for the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL who are absolutely atrocious and in last place in the East Division.

Pryor is one of the lone bright spots on the team with 5 goals and 10 assists in 21 games.

Pryor has always been a favorite of mine and I wish him luck at Maine. It's too bad things didn't work out for him at Wisconsin.

Cody Goloubef makes Team Canada for the WJC

Congrats go out to Cody Goloubef who will be representing his country as a member of Team Canada in the upcoming World Junior Championships. The WJC will be held in Ottawa, which should make it a bit sweeter for the Badger Dman. Of the two Badgers who attending Canada's WJ camp (Brendan Smith was the other), I thought Cody would have the best chance of making it. He is the only NCAA player on Team Canada, similar to Kyle Turris last season.

W/ Cody and Ryan McDonagh gone for the first four games following Christmas, Wisconsin will be down to six defensemen. Ryan Little, Eric Springer and Craig Johnson are going to get a lot of playing time. Unlike last year (when Jamie McBain, Blake Geoffrion and Kyle Turris were gone) Wisconsin doesn't have to face any WCHA competition on the weekend following the Showdown. Northern Michigan is no pushover, but CC was a tough pill last season w/ out our three best players.

I'm sure there will be some local media coverage in the coming days and we'll bring it to you.

Edit: On cue, Baggot reported the news.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Much needed Recruit Update

Before I get to the recruits, yesterday at Canada's WJ scrimmage Brendan Smith scored a goal for Team White in a losing effort, as they fell to Team Red. On friday, I thought Smith was w/ Team Red, now I'm confused. The last day of camp is today, and rosters should follow soon after. Already known, Ryan McDonagh will be representing Team USA.

Let's start in the BCHL where Mark Zengerle continues to play exceptional hockey. Last weekend (Dec 5-7), Mark was named 1st Star in a friday win where he notched 2 goals. One 1st star wasn't enough for him on the weekend as he dished out 5 assists on saturday night helping the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to another victory. He added another assist the following sunday in a win. This weekend Mark continued to light up the score board. In a close one friday, he had an assist on the game tying goal. Finally, last night Mark had a goal and two assists and earned another 1st star. Salmon Arm is 5-0 in their last five, and Mark Zengerle has been a huge part of that w/ 3-9-12. Overall Mark is 2nd in the BCHL in scoring, while averaging 2 pts/game, which leads everyone. This commitment is looking better every shift he plays.

Over on the Westside Warriors, Justin Schultz isn't doing so bad either. Last weekend (Dec 5-7), Justin had a goal friday night in a winning effort. This past tuesday he had an assist on a PP goal in another Westside win. While Justin was held off the scoresheet on friday, he made up for it last night w/ two goals (both on the PP) and an assist. A nice stretch for the young dman. He continues to lead the BCHL in scoring for defensemen, and is 24th overall. Justin and Mark were both named to the Interior Conference All-Star squad.

Let us not forget about Derek Lee of the Victoria Grizzles. Last weekend (Dec 5-7) Derek had a goal and two assists friday, and was named 3rd star in a win. Derek went several games following, not cracking the scoresheet, but this afternoon, had two assists, helping his team to victory. Derek is 25th in scoring in the BCHL.

Over at the NTDP, there was a post by Andy Baggot about the commitment of John Ramage that hasn't made it up here yet. Some more information on his decision to come here, he picked UW over Maine, Mich St and CC. So far, I haven't heard anything but positives about this kid, and frankly I'm pretty excited to have him join the Badgers next season. He sounds like a more defensive dman, w/ a booming slapshot. He's a big kid too. Wisconsin needs a player like this, I'm just wondering what he was doing still uncommitted w/ the apparent talent he has.

Over in MN, Tyler Lapic (2010 forward recruit in case you forgot) is back on the ice skating his senior year of hockey after an injury kept him out of the HS Hockey Elite League this fall. He has goals in wins over Lourdes and Mankato West.

In Wisconsin HS action, Dplaya over at HIW went and saw Matt Paape play the other weekend. Cody Strang had two goals and an assist on friday to lead Madison Edgewood over Oregon. I need to find my Edgewood schedule and catch one of his game's this season.

Finally onto the USHL. There was some good news this weekend for Badger fans, Aaron Crandall seems to have turned things around collecting two wins. On friday, Aaron stopped 30 of 33 shots helping Des Moines to a 5-3 victory, and followed that up last night stopping 32 of 33 shots in another win. Sounds like Des Moines' coach gave him a week off awhile back, and upon his return Aaron has been playing well. I know a lot of Badger fans have been concerned about Crandall w/ Shane Connelly's graduation right around the corner, and Scott Gudmandson's stumbles so far this season. To compound that, Mike Johnson (Verona native) is playing w/ Cedar Rapids and having a great season while uncommitted.

The following USHLers have been pretty quiet lately: Tyler Barnes, Chase Drake, Sean Little and Jefferson Dahl.

Gavin Hartzog is starting to put things together w/ the Fargo Force, after a slow start. Last saturday, Gavin had a goal in a Fargo win, while on thursday he had an assist in winning effort. Finally, friday Gavin's was one of the three pucks that future teammate Aaron Crandall let by.

Keegan Meuer is having a good season w/ Waterloo. He's notched assists in three of his last four games.

Finally to wrap everything up, Craig Smith continues to dominate the USHL. Overall, Craig is 8th in the league in scoring w/ 12-14-26, +12, though on a pts/game basis Craig is 3rd. He missed some games due to the Junior A Challenge where he captained Team USA and was an all-tourney selection. Recently, he was named Captain of the Waterloo Black Hawks (though the link eludes me). Craig has a point in each of his last four games, included an assist last friday in a loss to GB, a goal and an assist last saturday in a win over Omaha, a goal friday night in a win over Sioux City and finally a goal and two assists last night in a win over Tri-City. Last night Craig was also named 3rd star. His breakout season is upon him.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Off Week Linkorama

It certainly has been an off week for the Badgers and the blog. Lets get things caught up.

  • Cody Goloubef was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week. Cody had 2 game winners as the Badgers swept UAA. Michael Davies was nominated for Offenseive Player of the Week, and Derek Stepan Rookie of the Week. For the Women's team, Brooke Ammerman notched her third WCHA weekly honor being named WCHA Rookie of the Week. 3 goals and 2 assists on the weekend led the team.
  • Cody Goloubef and Brendan Smith are praticipating in Canada's World Junior Camp this weekend. Both are on Team Red. Yesterday they both assisted on Team Red's first goal by John Tavares, but Team Red lost to Team White 6-3. There was another scrimmage today, and another tomorrow. Thanks to the World of Junior Hockey for the info.
  • Todd @ TCT had an article on wednesday summarizing the first half of the season. Badgers went from the worst start in school history to leading the WCHA coming into this weekend. It's amazing the turnaround in Badger fans in a few short months. At Halloween people wanted Eaves fired (in some forums) and after Thanksgiving it was all smiles again. The Badgers are no longer in 1st place, as minnesota and Denver have both jumped ahead so far this weekend.
  • The Badger Men moved into the rankings at #16, while the Women continue as the consensus #1.
  • Todd @ TCT also had several misc posts over at the Ice House this week. The Chicago Blackhawks did the right thing following a game in Toronto. Wisconsin and St. Cloud lead the nation in # of players who have scored a goal this season w/ 19. Only Jake Gardiner, Craig Johnson, Ryan Little, Aaron Bendickson and Tom Bardis have not lit the lamp. With finals starting tomorrow, there was a little fun in practice this week w/ the Wisco Cup 2-on-2 tourney. The "Avalanche" won, the team was comprised of Tom Gorowsky, Sean Dolan, Eric Springer and Ryan Little. Jake Gardiner competed in the event (which is a good sign based on his concussion), while Blake Geoffrion and Ben Grotting ran the tourney, out w/ leg injuries.
  • If you want to learn something about Erika Lawler's younger brothers, this is the article for you. Thanks to Dplaya for the find.
  • Lastly some NHL Badger news. Adam Burish is on the IR due to a toe injury. Also, Matt Ford and Josh Engel both were called up to the AHL recently from the ECHL, but it appears both will be headed back to their old ECHL clubs as they were both recently cut by their AHL clubs.

Tomorrow, I'm going to focus on the recruits in a linkorama. Mark Zengerle and Craig Smith continue to play well, and I will continue to hype them.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mid-Season Awards: Top Frosh (Women)

Earlier it was the Men, today let’s talk about the freshman of the Women’s team. I won’t be including Nikka Kaasa in the voting, no offense meant to her, but w/ Jessie Vetter hogging the net (sarcasm intended) Nikka hasn’t seen much ice time yet as a Badger.

I’ve really enjoyed watching the Badger Women this season, and its hard not to like all three freshman Badger skaters. All three came highly regarded before starting their Wisconsin careers. Brooke Ammerman was considered one of the top US recruits, while both Carolyne Prevost and Brittany Haverstock were both top Canadians at their positions.

Brooke Ammerman – I’ve coined her as the “freshman sensation” because she has burst onto the scene and been a huge part of Wisconsin’s offense this season. Brooke anchors the 3rd EV line and 2nd PP unit, where she is racking up the stats game in and game out. She trails only Hilary Knight in goals, and Knight and Erika Lawler in points. The future is bright for this freshman. Stats: 20 games, 20-10-30, 5 PP goals, +19

Brittany Haverstock – The freshman defender from Nova Scotia is having a fine season as well. I’m guessing Brittany has seen the highest tide changes in the world at the Bay of Fundy, located in her home province. Brittany doesn’t have a goal yet, but there hasn’t been much scoring from the blue line by the Badger Women. For a freshman, she is solid on both ends of the ice. Along w/ Mallory Deluce, she will be playing w/ Team Canada’s U22 team in early January. Stats: 20 games, 0-12-12, +21

Carolyne Prevost – Carolyne has had the good fortune of playing on the 2nd EV line w/ Mallory Deluce and Meghan Duggan. She compliments her linemates well and has done her part to contribute at EV and on the PP. During one game, she did the splits to avoid an off-sides call, I was impressed. Could John Mitchell do the same thing? Perhaps her martial arts background (4 time Canadian National Champ in taekwondo) is intimidating the competition; more likely she is just good. Stats: 20 games, 9-8-17, 3 PP goals, +17

Around the WCHA Dec 12-14

Despite the fact that Wisconsin is not playing this weekend, everyone else besides UAA is. I didn't do very well last week w/ predictions, here are last week's results:

Wisconsin swept UAA
St. Cloud swept Mankato in a home & home
Duluth took 3 pts from CC
DU swept Michigan Tech
North Dakota swept Havard

Though Wisconsin has at least two games in hand, its pretty cool to see them atop the WCHA standings at this point. In points/game, Wisconsin is 4th in the WCHA. Still a great turn around after only netting 1 point in their first five WCHA games. While winning the MacNaughton would be great, right now I just want to see some home ice for the 1st round of the WCHA playoffs.

Here are this week's games:

Michigan Tech @ Duluth - Duluth takes 3 pts
St. Cloud @ North Dakota - both coming off sweeps so the split
DU @ Mankato - Split
CC @ minnesota - 3 pts for the goofers

If you have Charter and get the sports teir, both minnesota games are on one of the Fox Sports channels this weekend. If the Badgers aren't on to cheer for, the next best thing is cheering against the rodents.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Drive for .500 by Christmas...Mission Accomplished, plus a little extra

Six weeks ago following a disappointing weekend against minnesota, I laid down a plan for the Badger Men to reach .500 by Christmas break. I later updated the plan following two road series. Here is how everything finished off.

@ North Dakota - Split (1-6-1) - the Sioux are struggling too, get a win and start rolling - Mission Accomplished

vs Michigan Tech - Sweep (3-6-1) - this team is not good this season - Mission Accomplished

@ Duluth - 3 pts (4-6-2) - Duluth is also bad and the blog will be there to inspire the team – Mission Accomplished

@ St. Cloud - Split (5-7-2) - Hopefully get some revenge for the WCHA playoffs – Mission Accomplished

College Hockey Showcase - Split (6-8-2) – Mission Exceeded

vs UAA - Sweep (8-8-2) - They might finish 8th in the WCHA, we can't afford a loss to them at home – Mission Accomplished

I was going to post about this last week, but the drive for .500 wasn’t in the bag, and I didn’t want to jinx the team. While the Badgers were .500 following the Showcase, had they stumbled versus UAA, the goal might not have been achieved. Not much more to say at this point. The boys “persevered” following the horrible start and in the end exceeded my expectations. Though when I originally wrote this up, I didn’t expect Michigan State to be so bad this season, though nor did I think UAA would give us as much of a fight, which they definitely did on Friday night.

The team is coming together right in time for the second half, w/ 12 out of 18 games left at the Kohl Center, where the Badgers are 6-1-1 this season.

Mid-Season Awards: Top Frosh (Men)

The first half is done and its time for some mid-season awards. Good place to start is w/ the freshman. Who has had the biggest impact on the team through 18 games? Who has made the best transition from their previous team (USHL, HS, Shattuck)? All seven players have seen the ice, so I’m going to include all of them. I think the freshman class as a whole has done very well this season, and I’ll have more analysis on that before the 2nd half of the season begins.

Jake Gardiner – The young defenseman has made a great transition from the MN HS ranks. W/ his recent switch to the blue line, I was worried that Jake would be a liability on defense, but he has been pretty good. On offense, he’s started to show why he was a 1st round pick of the Anaheim Ducks this summer. His skating ability is amazing, and he has the makings of a great PP QB like Jamie McBain. He is tied for 2nd on the team in assists. Stats: 17 games, 0-9-9, +4

Chris Hickey – Chris hasn’t seen a ton of action this season, playing in only four games, but he’s made the most of those minutes. He scored a big goal in Duluth, his first as a Badger, and worked hard on the 4th line. Stats: 4 games, 1-0-1, +1

Ryan Little – The one thing that sticks out about Ryan is the huge hits he has handed out so far this season. He is a little guy too, not a big bruiser. He’s made some freshman mistakes, but overall his play has been solid. Ryan and Eric Springer have a nice rotation going, w/ both freshmen seeing decent ice time. Stats: 12 games, 0-2-2, -1

Jordy Murray – It didn’t take long for Jordy to make an impact this season, scoring early in the season on the road. While his scoring has cooled off some, Jordy is seeing a lot of ice time on special teams. He’s regularly skated w/ the 2nd PP unit and spent a lot of time on the PK. Stats: 18 games, 4-4-8, +4

Eric Springer – Similar to Ryan Little, Eric has made some freshman mistakes, but overall is a solid contributor on the blue line. Eric has steadily improved, and is looking pretty good out on the ice as of late. Either he’s lucky or consistent, but Eric leads the team in +/-. Stats: 7 games, 1-1-2, +8

Derek Stepan – For large parts of the season, Derek has been pretty quiet. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as he really hasn’t made many mistakes for a freshman, and at times it looks like he’s played in the WCHA for several seasons. The 2nd round pick of the NY Rangers is starting to light up the scoreboard coming off his best series, w/ a goal and three assists. He is tied for 2nd on the team in assists and is 3rd in points. Stats: 18 games, 3-9-12, -5

Matt Thurber – As my favorite freshman, I have high expectations for Matt, and I think he’s doing just fine adjusting to the WCHA. He was one of the top playmakers in the USHL last season, and he’s starting to show this off w/ some great passes and decision making. He’s been solid in face-offs, and is one of the top PK forwards on the team. Stats: 17 games, 2-5-7, +3

It was a close race in the pre-season voting: Stepan 26%, Thurber 25%, Gardiner 18%.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Burish and Sharp play a few pranks on Toews and Kane

Found myself laughing a couple of times at these videos so I figured it was worthy of sharing with you all. Pretty funny stuff.

Check out the other video's on there too. I like the one with Kane and Toews campaigning to get into the all star game against each other and the one where Kane has a figuring made after himself for winning the Calder Trophy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend Review: Everybody Sweeps!

Both the Men and Women swept their opponents this week! Both are also in 1st place in the WCHA, though the Men do have several games in hand, but following the 0-6-1 start, it feels really good to say it.

"It's quite an accomplishment for this group from where we were," UW coach Mike Eaves said. "The thing that we as a staff are the proudest of is the fact they stayed together through tough times and persevered."

I don't have much to add for the Men's series, the beat Alaska Anchorage 3-2 on friday and 7-2 on saturday. Chuck did a nice job w/ the live blog. Nice weekend for the PP going 4-13 and the PK allowing 1 goal on 14 UAA PPs.

On friday night, UAA really came to play out of the gate. Wisconsin owned the 2nd period scoring all three goals, but didn't respond well in the 3rd following Blake Geoffion's injury. I was a little worried saturday night, but the team came to play and really took it to the Seawolves. Nice play all around on saturday, a little lazy late letting in those 2 late goals. Connelly played well all weekend, he's really heating up.

Some other top preformers for the weekend: Michael Davies had a great weekend w/ 2 goals and 2 assists. After calling Cody Goloubef out (in a positive way) last week for playing great w/ out the big numbers, he goes out and has two game winners. Jamie McBain continues to lead the team in scoring adding 3 assists. Finally, Derek Stepan continues to quitely play well on the ice w/ a goal and 3 assists.

Some reading:

Friday's game:
TCT (Milewski): Injuries, performance mar UW victory
Ice House: Game Day Post
WSJ (Baggot): More pain than pleasure in UW's 3-2 win Badgers beat out Seawolves 3-2

Saturday's game:
TCT (Milewski): UW closes first half with resounding victory
Ice House: Game Day post
WSJ (Baggot): Worst to first as UW atop WCHA UW takes first in WCHA with 7-2 win over UAA
Daily Cardinal: Wisconsin unbeaten in last five after home sweep
Badger Herald (Bleach): Despite captains’ injuries, Wisconsin stays on track
Badger Herald (Mason): UW sweeps UAA in weekend series

The Women's Hockey team remains unbeaten on the season as they head into break at 18-0-2. The Women beat St. Cloud 7-0 on friday and 6-2 on saturday. Jessie Vetter notched her 33rd career shutout in the win friday and the win saturday gave her her 75th victory as a Badger tying her for the school record w/ Jackie MacMillan.

The Women really took it to St. Cloud on friday, they started slow, but had a huge 2nd period. On saturday, St. Cloud brought a much better effort, but were again no match for the best team in the country.

My favorite moment of the weekend was when all the freshman skaters combined for a goal saturday as Brooke Ammerman (the Freshman Sensation) scored w/ assists from Brittany Haverstock (Nova Scotia's finest) and Carolyne Prevost (the Cardinal and White Ninja).

Top performances on the weekend for the Women: Brooke Ammerman had the biggest weekend w/ 3 goals and 2 assists. Not far behind was the top goal scorer in the country Hilary Knight w/ 2 of each. Erika Lawler had a playmaker on saturday along w/a goal.

Friday's game:
TCT (staff): Vetter gets another shutout Vetter does it again with shutout victory

Saturday's game:
TCT (Carey): Wisconsin Badgers women's hockey unbeaten at the holiday break
Daily Cardinal (Savide): With sweep of St. Cloud, Badgers undefeated heading into break
Badger Hearld (Donohue): Wisconsin leads nation in most statistical categories en route to unbeaten 1st half
Badger Herald (Mosgaller): UW near perfect at midway point Badgers give fans a good show overtaking Huskies 6-2

In the coming weeks off the blog will review the 1st half for both teams, take a look at some stats, and have a few polls for mid-season awards.