Thursday, May 28, 2009

Western Conference Finals

Unfortunately the Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated last night in OT of Game 5 of the Western Finals by the Detriot Red Wings. Three Badgers were on the ice in Adam Burish for Chicago, and Brian Rafalski and Chris Chelios for Detriot. Rafalski and Chelios play for another Cup against the Pittsburgh Penquins starting saturday night on NBC. Burish had a great playoffs and has no reason to hang his head; Chicago is a team on the rise.

What I really wanted to bring up was the manner in which Detriot scored both goals last night and throughout the series. Last night, they scored both goals right around the net. As much as I dislike Detriot, I think Coach Eaves should take some of this tape and show it to the team. Over the past few seasons, the Badgers generally haven't scored a lot of goals by camping out in front of the net. While the PP was great last season, it was more of a function of Jamie McBain's brillance and his blue line friends, than it was the forwards making something happen (more often than not). John Mitchell and Blake Geoffrion like to camp out in front, but from my vantage point(s), the Badgers don't crowd the crease like other teams. I've seen a lot of juicy rebounds over the past several seasons, but there is rarely someone in position to capitialize.

W/ all the talent on the team this coming season, I expect the Badgers to do a lot of things well. I hope Eaves gets more action around the crease instead of passing around the perimeter until the puck skips over someone's stick and out of the zone w/ out getting a shot off. I want to see Geoffrion, Patrick Johnson, Craig Smith, the Bohmber, Sean Dolan and Mitchell camped out in front on their shifts in front the opponents sieve and scoring some goals from point blank.

The offseason: agonizing!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More on the Men's Schedule

Over at the Badger Blog, Andy Baggot had a short piece about the Men's schedule.

The only thing of major note from his post is about the final WCHA series of the year at minnesota. Apparently there is a scheduling conflict at Mariucci Arena on March 5th and 6th, so the friday night game of the series might be the Target Center. The Target Center seats a lot more people than Mariucci; might have to round up some Badger fans to invade rodent country for the friday game. The sunday game will be a Mariucci.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Which 2006 Championship Team NHLer had the best season?

Four members of the 2006 National Championship team have placed themselves firmly as mainstays in the NHL, and spent most, if not all, of the past season at the highest level. Several other Championship Season Badgers (Jack Skille, Jake Dowell and Davis Drewiske) spent chunks of last season in the big show as well. (hopefully I didn't forget someone???) So which mainstay had the best season? Each brings a different game/role to the ice each night, and in the end stats certainly don’t tell the whole story. This is a tough vote.

Joe Pavelski – The former All-American enjoyed his best season yet in a San Jose Sharks uniform. Pavs was the 4th leading scoring on the Sharks (third in goals) and helped the organization to their first President’s Trophy for best regular season record. Unfortunately, the playoffs didn’t go so well, as the Sharks were ousted in the first round. Pavs is also a key part of both sides of the special teams’ spectrum for the Sharks.
Stats: 80 games, 25-34-59, +5, 46 PIM, 8 PP goals, 3 SH goals, 19 min/game and 56.3% faceoff winning % on 1250 faceoffs

Brain Elliott – After starting the year in the AHL, the Ottawa Senators saw their future and called Elliott up to the NHL. Playing for a bad team, he managed to record some nice stats, and will hopefully be between the pipes in the NHL for many years to come. Not bad for a 9th round pick and former All-American who almost wasn't even a Badger.
Stats: 31 games, 16-8-3, 2.77 GAA, 0.902 save %, w/ 1 SO

Adam Burish – The former Team Captain (which is mentioned in about every game he plays in) continues to play a critical role for the Chicago Blackhawks. Burish has arguably become one of the best PKers in the NHL and does a great job as a 4th line energy guy/grinder/fighter/agitator. Of this group, his team has had the most success in the playoffs, and his name has been praised regularly for things that don’t show up on score sheets. Hard not to like Burish who is a fan favorite in the Windy City.
Stats: 66 games, 6-3-9, +3, 93 PIM (way down from last season)

Tom Gilbert – After setting a few Edmonton Oilers rookie defenseman records (formerly held by Paul Coffey) Gilbert signed a huge contract, and didn’t disappoint in his sophomore season in the NHL. He played in all 82 games for the Oil, was 4th on the team in points and 2nd in assists (t-9th overall in assists by Dmen in the NHL). As my favorite alumni I follow some Oilers blogs, and everything coming out of Alberta is generally nothing but praise for the former All-American.
Stats: 82 games, 5-40-45, +6, 26 PIM, 2 PP goals, 22 min/game.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thank you to all the Men and Women currently serving in our nation's Armed Forces, and all of those who have proudly served before them.

May those overseas return home safely and soon, and those that have fallen never be forgotten.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Finally: the Men's Schedule has been released

It has finally been released; here is a link for a pdf. Home games in bold.

Oct 9/10 - Bye
Oct 16/17 – vs CC
Oct 23/24 – @ Mankato
Oct 30/31 – vs New Hampshire
Nov 6/7 – vs minnesota
Nov 13/14 – vs UAA
Nov 20/21 – @ St. Cloud
Nov 27/28 - @ College Hockey Showcase (Michigan St and Michigan)
Dec 4/5 – vs Tech
Dec 11/12 - @ North Dakota
Dec 18/19 – Bye
Christmas weekend – Bye
Jan 2/3 – Badger Hockey Showdown vs Merrimack (other semi: Ferris State vs Yale)
Jan 8 or 9 – vs US U-18 Team
Jan 15/16 - @ CC
Jan 22/23 – vs Denver
Jan 29/30 - @ Duluth
Feb 6 – Camp Randall Hockey Classic (Michigan)
Feb 12/13 - vs Mankato
Feb 19/20 – vs St. Cloud
Feb 26/27 – @ Tech
March 5/6 - @ minnesota
March 12/13 – WCHA 1st Round
March 19/20 – WCHA Final Five
March 26-28 – NCAA Regionals (Worchester, MA; Albany, NY; Ft Wayne, IN; St Paul, MN)
April 9/11 – Frozen Four @ Ford Field

First blush, I like this schedule. Unlike last season, the Badger have 8 of 10 to start the season at home. I also like that the US NTDP U-18 team is coming to the KC for an exhibition. Badger fans will get to see two recruits in Frankie Simonelli and Michael Mersch. Frankie will be joining the blue line the following season. In the 2nd half after playing the US NTDP, there won’t be a break straight through to the WCHA playoffs.

More thoughts later. Get the calendar out, time to plan some road trips. North Dakota and Michigan Tech might be my trips for this season.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Zengerle Still Coming To Wisconsin In 2010

One of the biggest problems with recruiting big time talent is that sometimes they don't ever make it on campus. I got a chance to talk with 2010 blue chipper Mark Zengerle this afternoon who confirmed that he is a lock to be in Madison to start the 2010 season.

"Yes, my plan is to come to Wisconsin in 2010 there is no doubt about it."

Zengerle, who absolutely tore up the BCHL last season by leading the league in points per game was drafted in the third round of the recent USHL draft by the Fargo Force. The high selection came as a bit of a shock to Zengerle who told the USHL teams prior to the draft that he would be heading back to Salmon Arm.

"Tri City wanted to take me at number 1 overall but I told them I was going back to Salmon Arm. So yes I was some what surprised."

Zengerle had nothing but impeccable things to say about Wisconsin and why it's the right fit for him.

"I think Wisconsin is an amazing place and I'm willing to play one more year of junior hockey before they bring me in. There's a ton of draws that makes me want to wait to go to Wisconsin and Wisconsin only. The coaching staff is awesome and the campus itself was just amazing and I don't want go to anywhere else."

"Also, I feel like another year of improvement on my game will give me an edge and I feel like I will be able to come in and hopefully be an impact player right away my freshman year. With many players leaving after next season I feel like coming in 2010 bigger and stronger that I will have a lot of opportunity and I really look forward to going there and can't wait."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Men's Schedule: pieces slowly come together

The 2009/10 Badger Men’s schedule is starting to come together as other schools release their schedules and other information comes in. Luckily for Badger fans, over on USCHO Icebadger once again is on top of things. His working Google spreadsheet can be found here. Right now there are only six weekends left to figure out. Below I’ve taken a stab at filling in the rest of the schedule based on nothing other than blind guesses, many scenarios are possible. You’ll find those games in bold. Looking back, at this point last season UW had already released the schedule.

Oct 2/3 – Bye
Oct 9/10 - @ Mankato
Oct 16/17 – vs CC
Oct 23/24 – Bye (rumored Mankato?)
Oct 30/31 – vs New Hampshire
Nov 6/7 – vs minnesota
Nov 13/14 – Bye
Nov 20/21 – @ St. Cloud
Nov 27/28 - @ College Hockey Showcase (Michigan and Michigan State)
Dec 4/5 – vs Tech
Dec 11/12 - @ North Dakota
Dec 18/19 – Bye
Christmas weekend – Bye
Jan 1/2 – Badger Hockey Showdown (Yale, Ferris St, Merrimack)
Jan 8/9 – vs Denver
Jan 15/16 - @ CC
Jan 22/23 – vs Mankato
Jan 29/30 - @ Duluth
Feb 6 – Camp Randall Hockey Classic (Michigan)
Feb 12/13 - @ Tech
Feb 19/20 – vs St. Cloud
Feb 26/27 – vs UAA
March 5/6 - @ minnesota
March 12/13 – WCHA 1st Round
March 19/20 – WCHA Final Five
March 26-28 – NCAA Regionals (Worchester, MA; Albany, NY; Ft Wayne, IN; St Paul, MN)
April 9/11 – Frozen Four @ Ford Field

The other season opening option would likely be @ Tech. I don’t see the Badgers scheduling four consecutive home series to start the season (DU or UAA are options to open). Icebadger includes Mankato as a rumor for the weekend of Oct 23/24 in his opponents' matrix, likely as a road series, though not on his main spreadsheet. Either way, if its Mankato or Tech, w/ CC at home the weekend after, this would be a very advantageous start compared to last season. Mankato and CC are teams w/ totally unproven goalies taking over, among other deficiencies.

In the second half, my guesses leave the Badgers w/ out a bye from the Showdown til the playoffs. I could definitely be wrong about this part of things, especially if the rumored date Oct 23/24 w/ Mankato is true for a road series, opening a weekend in the 2nd half at a critical time. The lack of a break might not be the worst thing either. I think we’d all agree it would have been to the Badgers advantage to play the weekend after sweeping the rodents on the road in February instead of having the weekend off. Bye weeks help w/ injuries, but hurt w/ momentum.

If the Badgers were to play DU when I’ve guessed (based on a guess from LetsgoDU), I believe that would be the second weekend of the World Juniors. It is likely that Jake Gardiner and Derek Stepan will be part of Team USA, but DU could have some kids on Team USA or Team Canada as well, so maybe it will be a wash. Hopefully when the two teams who I think will be fighting for the MacNaughton Cup battle at the Kohl Center they are both at full strength.

The official schedule should be out soon, see how good my guesses were then. I'm banking on being completely wrong.

Joe Pavelski Golf Outing Reminder

Just wanted to remind everyone out there who has yet to sign up for the Joe Pavelski charity golf tournament to do so as soon as possible.

Currently there is limited room available and spots are filling up quickly. We need to get as many Badger fans in attendance as possible.

From the golf outing informational website:

Join San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski at the inaugural Joe Pavelski Charity Golf Tournament. The tournament will be held at 2:00 PM on Friday, June 26, 2009, at the Stevens Point Country Club in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Register a team, as an individual, or just for the reception - but do it now, as space is limited! Proceeds to benefit Portage County Youth On Ice, and the Joe Pavelski Scholarship Fund.

Joe will be playing the same hole all day long so everyone will get a chance to golf with him!

Click here for more information and to register.

Aaron Crandall To UMD

It's come to our attention that former Wisconsin goalie commit Aaron Crandall has given his verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota Duluth for next fall. Crandall, a 6'1 goaltender from Lakeville, Minnesota backstopped the Des Moines Buccaneers this season to the second worst record in the USHL. His goals against average was over 5, and his save percentage an eye sore .858.

Crandall was originally committed to attend Wisconsin for the 2009 season. After two putrid seasons in the USHL, Wisconsin gave Crandalls scholarship to first team all USHL goaltender Brett Bennett. Crandall was offered a chance to walk on and earn a scholarship in the future but declined.

Minnesota Duluth was looking for a goaltender after WCHA goalie of the year Alex Stalock left school early to sign a professional contract with the San Jose Sharks. The Bulldogs are left with sophomore to be Brady Hjelle who is a very good goaltender, and walk-on Kenny Reiter. They do have a goaltender committed for 2010 with Mac Carruth, but they needed a scholarship goaltender right now.

Not a bad move on Crandalls part. Hjelle is a good goaltender but not someone who is absolutely unbeatable for the starting position. Good luck to Crandall in the future.

Monday, May 18, 2009

No Love for the Badgers?

In the last few weeks, one reputable college hockey site (College Hockey News) and the septic tank of college hockey (Inside College Hockey) both came up w/ their very pre-season Top 10’s. Always good for some discussion, even though all the early departures aren’t done yet, and the season doesn’t start for about 4+ months. The one thing missing from both lists is the University of Wisconsin. Before I get too far, here are their respective lists.

Very Pre-Season Top 10 (CHN/INCH)

1. Denver/Miami (OH)
2. Notre Dame/Denver
3. Miami (OH)/ Boston U
4. Cornell/minnesota
5. Boston U/Notre Dame
6. Michigan/Cornell
7. Princeton^2
8. minnesota/Michigan
9. North Dakota/UMASS-Lowell
10. UMASS-Lowell/St. Cloud

CHN goes as far to list N. Michigan, Boston College and New Hampshire as candidates for their last few spots, but not the Badgers. In general I agree w/ the lists, though I don’t follow the East Coast teams enough to say much, other than the ECAC is a weak conference and their teams don’t get 10 games against TUCs until their conference tourney. After UW’s schedule is released, it will be easy to determine how quickly they will get 10 TUC games, at worst it will be 14 games in. Denver, Notre Dame, Miami (OH), Michigan, and Boston U would be on my list too. I don’t see any reason why Wisconsin can be left out of any very pre-season Top 10 though, some where between 6 and 10.

Sure the Badgers haven’t met expectations the last three seasons, which is a HUGE disappointment to all of us. Twice they were the first team out (by the slimmest of margins and arguably should have been in both times), and the other time they skated in through the confluence of a bunch of games going exactly the way they needed to go. As much as the lack of consistency is disappointing, its not like Wisconsin has been in the crapper for three years, they have been on the cusp of great things, but haven’t been able to put the puzzle together, or for that matter keeping the puzzle together late in the game last season. The top thing they need to prove is that they can play consistently from October to March (hopefully April), and inside of that play 60 minutes of hockey each night, every night. That is a big goal, so I can understand skepticism about the team’s upcoming season, but there are more positives to look forward too.

When I look at the list of teams above, the only teams I see that didn’t have some significant losses are Denver and Miami (OH). Notre Dame, Boston U, and Michigan all lost some key parts. minnesota only lost Ryan Stoa, but unfortunately for them Alex Kangas will be back in their goal. Sure Wisconsin lost Jamie McBain, All-American defensemen, Shane Connelly, starting goalie, and Tom Gorowsky, who had a great senior season, but look what is returning.

On paper, Wisconsin will again have arguably the best blue line in the NCAA, and I think this will be the year they play up to that hype. 1st rounders Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith and Jake Gardiner are back along w/ 2nd rounders Cody “Gold Medal” Goloubef and freshman Justin Schultz (who I think fans will instantly like). Craig Johnson played well at the end of last season, and John Ramage should be drafted in June and play some good minutes in Fall. Sure McBain led the team in scoring and was the key to the PP, but one of these guys isn’t going to step up to fill that role? Goloubef? Gardner? Smith? McDonagh? Take your pick.

At forward, can you say loaded w/ seniors? In a NCAA where having talented upperclassmen is a premium, how do the Badgers not get some credit for the group that will be leading the team this season? Five senior forwards scored 10 or more goals in their last full season of action: Blake Geoffrion, Ben Street, Andy Bohmbach, John Mitchell and Michael Davies. Can any other team in the country say the same thing? Ben Grotting and Aaron Bendickson might not have the big point totals, but both are key parts to the team. Derek Stepan was second on the team in scoring, and is primed for a 40 point season. At the end of last season, Stepan was arguably the best freshman forward in the WCHA. In between there is a (large) cast of kids to fill in the cracks, and someone is likely to have a surprise season, hopefully Matt Thurber or Chris Hickey (everyone has their favorites). This doesn’t even count the freshman coming in. Craig Smith and Derek Lee should both see some significant playing time.

The only big question is in goal, but look at how many unproven goalies have had success the past few seasons. In 2008, Richard Bachman dominated the WCHA. Last season, two freshmen squared off in the National Championship game. Wisconsin does not have a freshman goalie in contention to playing time, but they have some “unproven” kids. After seeing Brett Bennett play, and his success in the USHL post-season, I’m not too worried. Plus, I still have some faith in Scott Gudmandson and I’m not counting him out.

All in all, I might be on my soapbox here, but I think Wisconsin is being discounted in these very pre-season top 10’s. In the coming weeks, I have some analysis to do about next season’s team, but even w/ out the numbers, this team returns a lot of goal scoring from last season and a TON of NCAA games played. Ben Street’s return is a wild card, and I think a very good one. Talk about hungry for some action, after watching from the seats for 30+ games, he’ll be ready to bury some pucks.

Last year, Wisconsin was one of the top scoring teams in the WCHA, most of that team is back and everyone is likely to get even better, so why would that drop off and not get even better? The key to the season will be defense, mainly defense late in the game playing with the lead. I don’t want to marginalize this achilles heel from last season, but outside of goaltending, I don’t have too many other worries. I look forward to Wisconsin proving all of their critics wrong in 2009/10.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rafalski, Redwings take out Burish, Hawks in Game 1

I'll be honest I don't follow the NHL as much as I would like too but this is definitely going to be an exciting series to watch. If your not already aware, the Badgers are still be represented in the NHL playoffs by a handful of players.

Detroit features defensemen Brian Rafalski and Chris Chelios. Rafalski, who was the 1995 WCHA defenseman of the year in his senior season for the Badgers is the consummate professional. In Rafalski's 8 NHL seasons (he played 4 in Europe after college) he has made the playoffs in every season, and has been to 4 stanley cup finals, winning 3 cups. So far in this year's playoffs, Rafalski has 3 points in 6 games. Chelios, who needs no introduction as a healthy scratch in game 1 for Detroit and has not recorded a point in his 4 playoff games so far (he was filling in for Rafalski when he was out with injury).

Chicago boasts three Badgers on the current roster. They are highlighted by "Captain" Adam Burish who is having an outstanding playoffs so far for the Hawks. Burish, who recorded only 9 points during the regular season, has 5 points in 13 playoff games. Burish got the Hawks started in the first period by scoring on an un-assisted flukey goal. The Blackhawks are also rostering two other forwards from the 2006 National Championship squad with Jake Dowell from Eau Claire and Jack Skille from Verona. Neither Dowell, nor Skille has suited up for a playoff game this season.

This should be a very exciting series to watch and I'm looking forward to it. These two squads lock up next on Tuesday night. You can catch the game on versus at 6:30 or on TSN if you live in the artic circle.

Burish Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot
Rafalski Photo Credit: Dan4th Nicholas

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Former Onalaska Goalie to walk on

Thanks to Dplaya for the heads up; it appears that Onalaska native Mitch Thompson has accepted Coach Eaves' offer to walk on w/ the Badgers next season and assume the role as the 3rd stringer behind Scott Gudmandson and Brett Bennett as those two battle it out for the top job. Edit: Baggot doesn't have much to add.

I'll be honest, I don't know anything about Mitch. He played juniors last season w/ the Bozeman IceDogs of the Northern Pacific Hockey League, where he went 20-7 w/ a 2.93 GAA and 0.906 save %. He was a first team all state goalie his senior year.

He plans to redshirt this season and compete for ice time in the future.

His coach at Bozeman had this to say, “The only thing an athlete ever asks for is an opportunity,” Stone said. “(Wisconsin) knocked on his door and he opened it up, and now it’s up to Mitch to do something with it.”

Mitch Thompson welcome to the Badger Men's Hockey team!

USHL Entry Draft Results

The USHL is tying up all the headlines this week. Monday they completed an expansion draft for the Youngstown franchise which moved from the NAHL to the USHL. Tuesday they held the futures draft for 1993 born players. Yesterday they completed the Entry draft which had a few familiar names you might be interested in.

The first familiar name is a name I didn't even bring up when I was doing my USHL draft preview. 2010 Wisconsin forward recruit Mark Zengerle was selected by the Fargo Force in the third round #33 overall. Zengerle has already proved that he's a bona-fide superstar in the BCHL which he absolutely tore up this past season. A move to the USHL would prove more of a challenge with better defenses and goaltending. The USHL game is much closer to the college hockey game than the BCHL is, and if I were Zengerle I'd definitely consider making this move. He has nothing left to prove in the BCHL.

The next player to go with connections to the program was another 2010 forward recruit Cody Strang. The Youngstown Phantoms, who selected Wisconsin natives Jefferson Dahl and David Donnellan in the expansion draft Monday, took the Madison native in the 5th round, pick #57 overall. Strang, who played last season for Madison Edgewood high school, was the winner of the 2009 Mr. Hockey award which is presented to the best high school hockey senior in the state of Wisconsin.

The very next pick after Strang was selected, the Sioux Falls Stampede stepped up to the podium (err computer) and took Springfield Jr. Blues forward Trent Frey. This isn't really a Badger connection but Frey is from River Falls and is a fantastic hockey player. I've personally gotten to see him play on more than 5 or 6 occasions and I've never been disappointed. Frey, who had an outstanding season rookie season for the Jr. Blues, is committed to Mercyhurst for 2010. After a season with a great coach in Sioux Falls Kevin Hartzel, Frey should be ready to make an immediate impact in the Laker lineup.

Another player that I figured would go was Madison Capitols forward Tyler Lundey. The defending Clark Cup Champion Indiana Ice continued their trend of selecting Wisconsin born players (they took Merill native Alex Racino and Verona native Joey Fiala Tuesday in the futures draft) by selecting Lundey in the 12th round. Lundey, a 5'10, 170 lb forward from Middleton had 71 points in 69 games this season for the Capitols. Lundey has been in contact with the Badgers and is also considering Denver, Minnesota Duluth, and the Air Force Academy.

Team Wisconsin U-16 forward Russell Blaser was selected by the Tri-City Storm in the 12th round, number 156 overall. Blaser, who plays his winter hockey with the Monona Grove high school team, was a member of Team Wisconsin minors who went to Nationals this spring. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know a thing about the kid and didn't see this pick coming. I'm not knocking him, because I've never seen him, but I'm just wondering if this pick was really worth it. He's a junior and he played with TW minor last year. That doesn't exactly scream USHL draft to me. But to each his own I suppose.

The Indiana Ice went back to Wisconsin to find a defenseman in the 15th round. They selected Milwaukee Jr. Admirals defensman Jarrod Rabey with the 193rd pick in the draft. This is another pick that surprises me. Not that Rabey isn't deserving of this selection, but the thing that surprises me is that Rabey not only isn't the best defenseman on his own club, but there is a better '92 defenseman on that club in Joe Delgadillo. Also, I'm not trying to make fun of the kid, but he's listed at 240 lbs and unless your Derek Boogard, you can't play in the USHL at that wieght.

In arguably the most shocking move in the history of the United States Hockey League, the Chicago Steel set a new precedent by selecting goaltender Alex Rigsby of the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals in the 16th round. The big deal? Rigsby is a woman. Rigsby, who is from Hartland, is committed to play goaltender for the lady Badgers in the 2010 season. She has already played for Badger women's coach Mark Johnson. She was a key member of Team USA, who was coached by Johnson, that won gold this winter playing in the U-18 championships. Rigsby was named the best goaltender in the tournament.

Honestly, I thought there would be a few more kids selected. I figured Ryan Belonger and C.J. Eick would be locks to go in the draft. Belonger is considering playing his senior season with Team Wisconsin majors if he doesn't make a USHL roster. Like I already mentioned as well, I thought that Jose Delgadillo would be selected. I'm also surprised that all of the Team Wisconsin senior forwards like Wauters, Westmark, Johnson, Treddinick, and Dalbec were all passed over.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

USHL Entry Draft Preview

I've already told you about the results of the USHL futures draft. If you can't read or are just too lazy, the futures draft was for 1993 birth dates. Most 93's are currently sophomores in high school and most likely, many won't play in the USHL next season (there is obviously exceptions).

Tomorrow, the USHL is holding it's annual Entry Draft. The draft starts at 1PM and should go through probably at least 8 or 9. I don't remember them ever starting the draft this late in the past I thought they used to start it at 8 or 9 in the morning.

Like they were today, Wisconsin should be represented during the Entry draft. The only committed recruit for Wisconsin that is eligible is Madison native and 2009 Wisconsin Mr. Hockey Cody Strang. Strang had an OUTSTANDING season for Madison Edgewood. He racked up 76 points in 23 games for an average of 3.3 points a game which was best among his other committed future Badgers (obviously his competition wasn't as good). I haven't heard a lot of buzz surrounding Strang leading up to the draft but I would peg him as a top 5 round player.

3 other committed recruits have already been selected by USHL franchises. Troy Hesketh, a defenseman from Minnetonka has already been selected by Fargo. He's expected to play his senior season for the skippers at Minnetonka but could be lured away to Fargo by Dean Blais. Tyler Lapic, a senior from New Prague, Minnesota, has been selected by Omaha and should be a force for the Lancers next season. And last but not least, Matt Paape from Appleton has his rights owned by Sioux City.

As for potential recruits and Wisconsin natives, it's really a crap shoot but we should definitely hear some names called from this group. C.J. Eick and Ryan Belonger from the Green Bay Jr. Gamblers program should be drafted. Both are 92's and have had success on the national level. Both were called up to play a few games for the Gamblers big squad this season. Neither played the required 10 games so both are eligible to be drafted and both should.

Team Wisconsin should get a few names called besides Wisconsin commit Cody Strang. I'm guessing at least one of the three junior defensemen, (Shayne McLaughlin, Eau Claire Memorial; Nolan Kirley, Hayward; or Brian Kemp, Fond du Lac) will be selected. Cody Johnson from Hudson has an opportunity to go. Alex Amundson, a defenseman from Brookfield, should hear his name called. He was listed as a player to watch by NHL Central Scouting before the season started. Wes Wauters (Ashwaubenon), Tommy Westmark (Appleton), Ross Anderson (River Falls), and Jordan Tredinnick (Onalaska) and Pat Dalbec (Superior) all have outside shots tomorrow. Goaltender Andrew Martin, who was offered a spot to walk on at Wisconsin, will also be watching intently from his computer screen tomorrow afternoon.

Other potential recruits that have an opportunity to see their name scroll across the computer screen tomorrow: Darren Lapic from New Prague (Tyler Lapic's brother), Eric Johnson and Tyler Lundey from the Madison Capitols, Nick Widing from Hill Murray (originally from Somerset), and Jose Delgadillo from the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Committed Recruit Dahl Selected In USHL Expansion Draft

2010 Forward recruit Jefferson Dahl who played last season with the Green Bay Gamblers was selected by the newest member of the USHL, the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL Expansion draft on Monday. Dahl, who played his high school hockey at Eau Claire Memorial, had 28 points in 61 games between the regular season and the playoffs this season for the Gamblers. If you remember, Dahl was the 2008 winner of the Wisconsin Mr. Hockey award..

Dahl should be a key member of the new Youngstown franchise. Youngstown most recently played in the NAHL and has had success there. In the expansion draft, they also selected one of Dahl's former teamates at Eau Claire Memorial, defenseman David Donnellan. Donnellan played this past season for Sioux Falls before he was traded to Tri-City. Donnellan is a good solid defenseman who has had contact with the Badgers in the past and would look good in cardinal and white should we lose some of our defensemen to the pro's after next season.

USHL Futures Draft

The USHL futures draft is going on right now. You can find the live draft results here.

From the USHL site explaining the futures draft:

The USHL Futures Draft consists of five rounds and allows each of the 13 member clubs to draft players who were born in 1993. These 65 players will then be placed on the affiliate list of their respective clubs for the 2009-10 season. USHL teams retain the rights to players selected in the Futures Draft for three years and can add these players to the active roster at any time during the season.

Wisconsin commit Jordan Schmaltz (Pictured) from Verona, WI was just drafted #6 overall in the first round by the Sioux City Musketeers. Schmaltz, who was mysteriously left off the 40 man NTDP tryouts, was recently selected by the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL draft. Don't let that fool you though, Schmaltz is still expected to stay true to his commitment to Wisconsin. I would expect him to play a season of Midget Major hockey and then his senior season with Sioux City. By then, he should be ready to step onto the Madison campus and be ready to contribute to the Badgers as an 18 year old freshman.

Wisconsin potential recruit Alex Racino from Merrill, WI was just drafted #8 overall in the first round by the defending Clark Cup Champion Indiana Ice. Racino, like Schmaltz, was recently selected to represent the Central District at this summers USA Hockey Select 16 festival in Rochester, NY. Racino is a forward and was a key member of the Team Wisconsin Minor Program. Racino finished third in the Elite II Hockey league in scoring in the fall of 2008 with 23 points. He was only 1 point behind the leader Jacob Ladouceur from North Dakota.

Another future Badger goes off the board in the second round. The most recent commitment for the Badgers, Taft Prep forward Corbin McGuire was selected by the Fargo Force with the 22nd Overall selection. McGuire, a smallish, crafty forward was a force last summer at the USA Hockey Select 15 festival in St. Cloud. I would expect nothing short of that performance again this summer at Select 16's in Rochester. McGuire, like Schmaltz is committed for 2012. McGuire is committed to his education and there aren't many prep schools in the nation better than Taft. Right now I'd say it's a toss up to as if he finishes his senior season at Taft or goes to Fargo.

The Clark Cup Champion Indiana Ice continue to raid the Wisconsin high school ranks. In the third round they have selected Verona defenseman Joey Fiala. He was a lock down defender for Verona high school this winter leading them to the WIAA State Tournament. Fiala, like Schmaltz was recently selected in the OHL draft. Fiala, who was the only Wisconsin high school player selected, was taken by the Saginaw Spirit in the 14th round. He's a big kid, 6'2, 185 lbs and moves fairly well. He was a key member of TW Minors as they made it to the national tournament. He's definitely a kid to keep an eye on in the next few years.

Eau Claire Memorial Defenseman Jake McCabe has been selected by the Sioux Falls Stampede. The Stampede took McCabe with the 7th pick in the 4th round, #46 overall. McCabe, who is at this time the superior defensman over Fiala, most likely dropped in the draft due to his size (5'10, 165). In the end, I think McCabe will be the better prospect. His brother Andrew will be an incoming freshman forward for Nebraska-Omaha. McCabe, who was a freshman this past season for Memorial, had 22 points in 23 games for the Old Abes.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bennett, Ice capture Clark Cup

Photo from

Another USHL Champion is crowned and another Badger recruit was a huge part of that success. The Indiana Ice took the Clark Cup Finals in 4 games over the Fargo Force, winning 5-1 on friday night.

Brett Bennett backstopped the Ice in each game, and overall made 107 saves on 112 shots faced in the Finals for a 95.5 save %, and roughly a 1.25 GAA. Those are pretty impressive numbers, and we can only hope that he continues that success here in Madison next season fighting for the goaltender position w/ Scott Gudmandson.

Congrats to Brett Bennett on a stellar USHL season!

Tyler Barnes coming in 2010

Photo from

Dplaya over at HIW is reporting that Tyler Barnes will not be coming in for the 2009/10 season, but instead will don the Cardinal and White starting in the Fall of 2010. He had signed a National Letter of Intent for the coming season. Dplaya mentions that Coach Eaves traveled to Burnsville, MN to discuss this in person w/ Tyler recently. The local Waterloo paper also mentions that he will be back for the Black Hawks' upcoming season.

This puts the Badgers forward total at 17 for next season.

The could be a big boost for Tyler in some ways. Instead of riding the pines almost every night in Madison (or maybe redshirting), he'll have a significant role w/ Waterloo next season. He put up decent points in his first USHL season, he could have a Craig Smith or Matt Thurber type season to prepare for his Badger debut. Losing at least 7 forwards following next season, Tyler could step right in to some playing time w/ out losing a year of eligibility to the bench.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Martin Turns Down Walk On Offer To UW

There have been rumors floating around lately about Stoughton High School goaltender Andrew Martin receiving an offer to walk on with Wisconsin.

I recently spoke with Martin who confirmed that he received an offer to walk on with the Badgers and he has decided to respectfully turn it down, at least for now.

Martin has signed a tender with the Springfield Jr. Blues of the North American Hockey League and plans to play there next season. That obviously could change in the coming weeks with the results of the United States Hockey League draft on May 15th.

Personally, I think it's a good move for Martin. He's a really good goaltender and has an opportunity to earn himself a Division 1 scholarship in the future. Who knows, maybe even at Wisconsin...we do have two Junior goaltenders this upcoming season...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Busy Week, A Few More Links

Thanks to Brad at the GF Herald blog for pointing this out. It appears as if the WCHA is now locked into trying to entice Nebraska-Omaha to join the WCHA as the 12th member. One of the biggest factors? Northern Michigan has said they will not apply for WCHA Membership.

So the fate of the hockey program at Bemidji State rides on a decison by Nebraska-Omaha, who would have thought?
This is also courtesy of the GF Herald Blog. The United States (Joe Pavelski, Ryan Suter) are set to take on Finland in the quarter finals of the World Championships Wedensay. Canada (Dany Heatley) will face Latvia in the quartars Thursday. Bernd Bruckler and his Austrian squad were eliminated in pool play.
This one is courtesy of D-Playa at Hockey In Wisconsin. Apparently, Wisconsin commit Jordan Schmaltz, who was drafted in the 7th round by the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL Priority Selection over the weekend won't return phone calls from the local paper. The coach is quoted in the paper as saying Schmaltz would have been a top 15 pick in the draft if he had committed to the OHL. I don't believe that, and I also think it's hilarious he won't answer your calls.
Also from Hockey In Wisconsin. Blake Geoffrion talks with the Tennesean about going pro. Like has already been talked about before, Blake re-affirms that he's playing his senior season at Wisconsin.
Indiana evened up the Clark Cup Finals series 1-1 with a victory over Fargo 5-2 on Saturday. Wisconsin committ Gavin Hartzog was held off the scoresheet for Fargo and Goaltener recruit Brett Bennett had 23 saves on 25 shots for Indiana. Game 3 is Wednsday night in Fargo.
For some reason, FSN wants to keep Woog and the Rug around. Link via Goons World.
The Minnesota Wild narrow the search for the new General Manager. It sounds as if TSN and NBC color analyst Pierre McGuire has a good shot. He was interviewed by the Wild yesterday. Other candidates include Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Chuck Fletcher, longtime NHL GM and coach Pat Quinn, Nashville Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton and Wild acting GM Tom Lynn.

Monday, May 4, 2009

100,000 Visitors, Thank You!

Just wanted to take a brief second to let you guys know that today at 7:32 PM, the 60 Minutes. No Alibis. No Regrets. blog reached the 100,000 visitor mark. It took just over a year to get there and that's not to shabby if you ask me.

Thanks for visiting the site and let us know if there is anything out there that you want to see in the future.

When you say Wisconsin, you've said it all

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Solway Returns To Bowling Green

In a turn of events that I don't believe anyone saw coming, David Solway, a Green Bay native, has rescinded on his original decision to transfer from Bowling Green.

If you remember correctly, about a month ago Solway, Rhinelander native Patrick Tiesling, and freshman defenseman Nick Bailen all decided they were leaving the Bowling Green program. The main reason was the uncertainty that the Bowling Green hockey program was possibly going to fold.

This is what Solway had to say after the initial decision to transfer, "As a player, you like to have guarantees going forward. I’m not 100 percent confident with that situation."

Being a Green Bay native, there were rumors that Solway may have interest in transferring to Wisconsin. The Badger beat writer, Andy Baggot, showed his intelligence by stating he didn't think there was a possibility of the transfer because UW is overloaded at forwards for next season. I would hope that being a beat writer for this long he would have been able to realize that transfers need to sit out a season.

With Wisconsin losing 6 senior forwards (edit: 7) next season, along with the possibility of an early departure from a kid like Derek Stepan, Solway made absolutely perfect sense for Wisconsin. I think Eaves and company probably felt the same way.

Unfortunately he's decided to head back to Bowling Green to finish out his career.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

OHL Draft Results

The OHL held it's "Priority Selection" today so I figured I'd give you an update on a few things Wisconsin related.

First of all, I hope everyone got to read the absolutely comical situation with Scott Harrington. If you aren't aware, read this article from Western College Hockey. Basically, the kid was going to be a top 5 selection in the OHL draft, and his advisor talks with a newspaper and puts it out there 2 days before the draft that he plans on going the college route. Like I mentioned yesterday, this SCREAMS pre-draft deal with a team drafting later in the first round. And guess who selected Scott Harrington with the second to last pick in the first round? You guessed it, the shadiest team in the league, the London Knights.

Next item of business. I certainly wasn't planning on it, but it also doesn't surprise me in the least that John Moore was selected. Moore, who currently plays for the Chicago Steel in the USHL, and is a Colorado College recruit for the upcoming season, was drafted early in the second round by the Kitchener Rangers. Moore is expected to be a top 10 pick in this summers NHL Draft. OHL teams don't draft players in the top 2 rounds that are already committed to colleges unless they have a deal in place. Don't expect to see Moore in at the World Arena in the fall.

The third round saw Trevor Morbeck, a Team Illinois forward and Wisconsin natives name called by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Everyone knows that Team Illinois is a major pipeline to UW, and with Morbeck being a Wisconsin native, it could have been a great fit for him and the Badgers. Morbecks older brother, a goaltender with TI, was drafted in the 2007 draft by the Oshawa Generals. As a third round pick he's a near lock to end up north of the border eventually. Morbeck should have a great time in Sault Ste. Marie if he ends up there as well. I'm not sure if you guys are up on your geography, but I've attached a map of the OHL franchises at the bottom of this post. The closest city to Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, is a 5 hour bus ride. Have fun with that.

The next Wisconsin born player to be selected was 2012 Wisconsin commit Jordan Schmaltz. Schmaltz, who is a Verona native, currently plays his hockey for the Chicago Mission. Jordan was drafted in the 7th round by the Windsor Spitfires. It was assumed that someone would take a shot at Schmaltz, but I don't think the 7th round is going to be high enough to entice him to give the OHL a serious look. Expect him to stay on track to Wisconsin.

After Schmaltz was another Team Illinois forward Lane King who was selected in the 13th round by the Oshawa Generals. King, who is from Waunakee, Wisconsin, is rumored along with a few other current AAA players to be returning to Waunakee to play Wisconsin high school hockey next season. No idea how true that is, stay tuned to see how that turns out.

Jake Dutter, another Team Illinois player was also taken in the 13th by St. Michael's Majors. Dutter, who is from Kenosha is an interesting player and was at last summers select 15 festival. DPlaya from Hockey In Wisconsin got to see King and Dutter play at the Central District tournamet in March. He had a few comments on both players as well as Trevor Morbeck.

The next, and last Wisconsin born player selected was Verona high school defenseman Joey Fiala. Fiala is the only Wisconsin high school player who was selected today. He was taken in the 14th round by the Saginaw Spirit. The 6'2, 185 lb defenseman was a lock down defenseman for Team Wisconsin minors as they navigated thier way to the USA Hockey national tournament about a month ago.

Force Skate Over Ice In Game 1

Last night, the Fargo Force defeated the Indiana Ice 2-1 in in an absolute thriller in game 1 of the Clark Cup USHL Finals.

Like I've mentioned here before, arguably the two best goaltenders in the USHL are featured in this series and they did nothing to disappoint last night. Mike Lee (Fargo), a St. Cloud recruit, finished with 33 saves on 34 shots. Brett Bennett (Indiana), a Wisconsin recruit, finished with 28 saves on 30 shots.

Indiana toook a 1-0 lead into the third period before an Eamonn McDermott goal at the 9:31 mark tied the game. Steve Spinell was the hero for Fargo when he recorded a goal with only 38 seconds left in the third period.

Gavin Hartzog, the other Wisconsin recruit in the series, was held pointless, was even, and recorded 1 shot on goal.

The two teams will meet up again tonight in Indiana at 7:05 for game two in the best of 5 Clark Cup Finals.

Friday, May 1, 2009

McKeen's Q&A w/ Craig Smith

Chuck is doing a fine job keeping the blog going while I vacation and 60 takes a break from her whirlwind tour of the Midwest Regional and Frozen Four (good of an excuse as any).

The other day over on USCHO, sagissor posted a McKeen's Q&A w/ 2009 Badger recruit Craig Smith. Definately a great read so take the time and check it out.

I won't cut and paste the whole thing here, it's long. In that same interview, they state the Craig must be in contention of USA Hockey Junior POY, and I think he deserves it. Somehow Andrew Miller was named USHL POY even though his team was far from the playoffs. The last Badger recruit to be named USA Hockey Junior POY was Joe Pavelski, good company should he be so honored.

Craig is an ideal player to jump into the Eaves system, he is a two way player, and wants to be a two way player. Michael Davies and Josh Turnbull should take notes. During the one chance I was able to see him play, I was impressed. He plays in all situations, and uses his body exceptionally well for positioning. I'm not sure how much PK time he'll see. Wisconsin has a pantheon of PK stars: Geoffrion and Street, Bomhbach and Stepan, Grotting and Bendickson, Thurber and Murray, etc. He was a key part of Waterloo's PP though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him gain some time there. We need a more reliable second PP unit.

All in all, I'm pretty excited about Craig Smith coming in, and our blog should continue to hype him and his "classmates" (Derek Lee, Tyler Barnes, Keegan Meuer, Justin Schultz, John Ramage and Brett Bennett) as the season nears. The off season is never dull w/ recruiting news and soon we can debate the 2009/10 schedule.

Wisconsin Badger Hockey: Linkin' It Up

So I decided to be somewhat lazy today and just do some links. Whatever, it's Friday right?

Chris at Western College Hockey has an interesting post on Scott Harrington and the OHL draft coming up on Saturday. If that doesn't scream I have a pre-draft deal done with a team drafting later in the first round, than I don't know what does. The only thing more obvious would just be him saying, "If I don't get drafted by one of these 3 teams, I'm going to play college, so suck on these." If you weren't aware, the OHL draft is on Saturday and I did a little bit of a Wisconsin preview a few days ago.
Chris also has a list of players drafted in the recent WHL Bantam draft. The WHL drafts it's players a year earlier than it's OHL and QMJHL counterparts. For reference, here is a map of the CHL and which leagues represent which states. The states not colored in are also part of the OHL.
Couretesy of Iceburg on GPL, here are the rosters out of Minnesota for the Select 16 and 17 festivals. Obviously there is a ton of good players on those two rosters. Players already committed to colleges: Forbort, North Dakota; Marshall, Minnesota; Benik, St. Cloud; Bjugstad, Minnesota; and Gardiner, Minnesota. (I think thats all for now, I'm probably wrong)
Courtesy of USA Hockey on Sioux Sports, here is a link to the prestigious 1994 Prospects tournament in Toronto this weekend. Not a ton of local players playing but there is some. Lots of Team Illinois players on the Complete Hockey Selects roster. We all know that TI is a huge pipeline to UW.

Cal Peterson, a goalie playing for the Madison Capitols Bantam team is playing for the Waterloo Jr. Blackhawks squad. Ian McCoshen, a defenseman from Hudson via Shattuck St. Marys is also playing for Waterloo. Same goes for New Richmond defenseman Zach Stepan also via Shattuck. Austin Kath, a defensman from the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals program, who played at Select 14's last year, is also playing for Waterloo. Another Admirals player on Waterloo is forward Ashton Wackym who also played at the select 14 festival last summer.

Other Wisconsin players: Goaltender David Zevnik from the Wisconsin AAA program will be playing for the West Coast Selects. Defenseman Nicholas LeSage from the Green Bay Jr. Gamblers is also listed on the West Coast Selects roster. Zach Merrick from the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals is listed with Team Harrow.
Earlier in the week we talked about Jake Dowell getting called up to be Blackhawks for playoff depth. It looks like Jack Skille has also been called up. Thanks to MadCityRich for the heads up.
Thanks to ExileOnDaytonStreet for pointing out that Dany Heatley had a goal yesterday for team Canada at the World Championships.
Chris Vande Velde has announced that he will return to UND for his senior season. I honestly thought that he would probably sign. He should be a favorite to be on the All conference team next season. Vande Velde is a really good player who is learning how to use his size to his advantage.
Brad Schlossman from the GF Herald has a post up about Omaha to the WCHA. It makes a ton of sense for UNO to make the move, let's hope they do it.
Let's go DU, which is obviously a Denver Pioneer blog, is moving to a full scale website and message board this summer. They do a great job over there so I'm interested to see how this goes for them.
In other Denver news, Rhett Rakhshani, who has the BEST name in college hockey, and is one of my favorite players in the WCHA, has announced he is returning to DU for his senior season. He is another player that I thought would bolt to the NHL. But, his rights are held by the Islanders, and honestly who wants to leave school early to play for that dismal franchise?