Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sean Little notches 1st USHL point

It took a long time, but Sean Little has notched his first USHL point w/ a PP goal in the 3rd period of tonights beat down that the GB Gamblers laid on the Waterloo Black Hawks. Final score 11-0. Nice work Sean! The three teams I've seen him play this season, he has worked hard on the 4th line, and should have a much bigger role w/ the Gamblers next season.

Jefferson Dahl continues to play well as he notched two goals doing his part in the rout.

Did Aaron Crandall de-commit?

Virtually everyone who reads this blog is well aware of the struggles that 2009 goaltender recruit Aaron Crandall has had in the nets over the last two seasons in the USHL. His combined stats? An overall record of 11-34-5 with a 4.07 gaa and a putrid .872 save percentage. The sad thing, is that his stats have gotten worse this season compared to last. (Both teams he has played on sucked)

Many fans have specualted as to the future of Aaron Crandall and how he fits into the Wisconsin program. Traditionally Wisconsin has run a two scholarship goaltender system with a junior/freshman, or a senior/sophomore combination. It's worked out great and we've seen many goaltnders develop well in this sytem. The plan was to continue this trend next season with Scott Gudmandson taking the reighns as the #1 goaltender as a junior while Crandall is groomed for the role in the future. We learned in early February that Wisconsin will be throwing that system aside when it got a committment from transfer Brett Bennett who is killing it in the USHL this season. (He will be a junior next season at UW).

But what did Bennetts commitment mean for Crandall? Well many thought it would end his ties to Wisconsin, and according to message board poster "puckembucky" on the Buckyville message board, Crandall will not be coming to Wisconsin.
"i was told today by someone from the des moines buccaneers that goalie recruit aaron crandall is no longer comitted to bucky next year and that he has lost his scholarship...

anyone else have this news confirmed?"
Keep in mind that this post sounded a bit sketchy and even says that they are looking for confirmation themselves. I definitely would not take this to the bank as a done deal. I'm sure Baggot will be all over this now that it has been out there on the internet. It certainly would not surprise me if this is true. I guess we will just have to sit back and wait and see what happens.

Eaves Still Man For The Job

After the 2006 championship, I would be lying to you if I said I planned on having to write this article a mere 3 seasons later. After missing the tournament completely in 2007, barely sneaking into it last season, and virtually needing to win the WCHA Final Five to gain entrance this season, Mike Eaves job security has been put in question by many.

It's funny how fast people forget the good but can recall the bad so quick. In "Confessions of a Winning Poker Player," Jack King said, "Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career." The same applies to the Wisconsin Badger hockey team. A mere 3 weeks ago the Badgers were in Minneapolis, finishing off sweeping the Gophers. After that, most fan's were planning on the guys in red making a play for the WCHA title, as well as hoping for more in the NCAA tournament. 3 straight loses later, and the fans are riding Eaves HARD.

Don't get me wrong, if you think I'm ignorant and haven't questioned Eaves at times, your wrong. I've disagreed with some of Eaves recruiting tactics and targets at times, and I've called him out about it on here as well as message boards. The fact still remains the same, Mike Eaves is the best option for the University of Wisconsin.

It's funny sometimes you forget the impeccable resume that Mike Eaves dons. Have we all forgotten the gold medal that Eaves brought home from the 2004 World Junior Championship in Finland? It still stands as the United States only gold medal in the 28 year history of the prestigious tournament. Have we forgotten that we were an OT goal away from a frozen 4 birth in Eaves second season? Have we forgotten that Zach Parise has said publicly that not only would he have possibly gone to Wisconsin had Wisconsin had Eaves in place when he committed, but that Eaves was the best coach he's EVER played for. Have we forgot about about the 2006 National Championship? Have we forgotten that the Anaheim Ducks drafted 3 future badgers in the 2008 draft because of the development that players get in Eaves pro style systems? Have we forgotten that we were an OT goal away from getting to the frozen four last season?

The fact still remains, that if you replace Mike Eaves, you will not find a replacement that is better than him. You will not find a replacement that is going to garner the respect from his players that he receives. You are not going to find a replacement that hits the recruiting trail as hard as they currently do. You are not going to find a replacement with the NHL connections that Eaves has. You will not find a replacement that can fill his shoes.

Every team has rough patches. It's bound to happen. Am I pissed that Wisconsin put it self in this position this season? Of course I am. If those two OT games against Maine and North Dakota in the regionals fall our way, and Eaves goes to 3 frozen fours in 6 years, and wins a title, are we still having this discussion? Yeah, we probably still are, because people are greedy. People don't realize how good they have it sometimes.

Mike Eaves is in his 7th season at Wisconsin, do you guys realize that Red Berenson at Michigan didn't even make the NCAA tournament until his 7th season? (Yeah obviously there are more teams in the tournament now) Do you realize that it took Berenson 11 years to win a championship? I can do this all day...who else do you think are the best coaches in the nation? It took Gwoz at Denver 10 years to win a title. Jerry York, it took him 7 seasons to win a title at BC. Jackie Parker won a title in his 5th sason, and it took him 17 seasons after that to gain another. I still think Parker is a pretty good coach and I bet you do as well. You guys remember how long it took Eaves to win a title...4 years.

Mike Eaves is going no where and thats a good thing. He's one of the best coaches in college hockey and we are lucky to have him coaching for us. I'm not jumping off this bandwagon and I hope you aren't either. This team has the potential to do great things. There is still time left in this season to make things happen. Will it be the easy road? Obviously not. But I've seen greater miracles in the world. Let's take care of business tonight, take care of business next weekend when the Sioux come to town, and we'll see where we are at.

Photo by AJ Maclean

Badgers 7 - Buckeyes 0

The Badger Women won the 1st game of their 1st-round WCHA playoffs v. Ohio State last night.

Box: uwbadgers, collegehockeystats

Live game blog: Anderson

Recaps
uwbadgers: Badgers breeze by Buckeyes
ohiostatebuckeyes: Ohio State defeated 7-0 in opening game of playoff series at No. 2 Wisconsin
Storlie (WSJ): Badger crush Ohio State

Mavs 4 - Badgers 3 (OT)

Box: collegehockeystats

Live game blog: Capobianco

Recaps
uwbadgers: UW falls 4-3 in OT to MSU
msumavericks: Stewart's overtime goal lifts Mavericks past #16 Badgers
Baggot (WSJ): Sweet start but sour finish in Mankato
Worgull (BN) : A sinking ship
Berhow (USCHO): Minnesota State edges Wisconsin
Frederick (Mankato Free Press): Mavs pull out gritty OT win


Let me start out by saying this: regardless of bad calls, disallowed goals, etc., if the game gets tied up in the 3rd, ya gotta score a goal and win the stinking game. And if you don't, and the game goes to OT, ya gotta score in OT. And failing that, for the love of Bucky, don't let the other team score. Honestly, the Badgers are a good enough team that they should've been able to win last night despite the bad calls. At least I think they are. Aren't they? I mean, I've seen them play really well, and when everyone is on the same page and everything is clicking they look really good. Aw hell, I don't know.

But having said that, and being who I am, I'd like to rant a little bit on behalf of good ol' Tom Gorowsky. And being part of the Lunatic Fringe, I think I'm entitled to a little rant. Normally I let Chuck do most of our ranting over here, but his rants today might not be fit for printing, and I'm sure Chuck won't mind. You don't mind, do you Chuck?

Holy crap has TG had some bad luck lately. Ever since the missed empty-netter v. UMD. (Which no, he shouldn't have missed, nothing to do with bad luck there, but I'm talking about after that now.) In the following 4 games, he recorded just 1 point, an assist on John Mitchell's goal @ minnesota on Saturday night. My memory is unreliable, but I seem to remember him having a number of chances v. Denver where he was battling in front of the net and just couldn't seem to get the puck in the net. And on that Saturday, he had 10 SOG that couldn't seem to find their way to the back of the net.

So Tom hadn't been scoring lately, and I'm guessing he was a little pissed off by that. Clearly I can't speak for Tom, but before the 1/31 game he had been recording 1 or 2 points per game on a pretty regular basis. Couple his lack of scoring with some Badger losses, and I think it would be safe to say that Tom was not a Happy Badger.

And so he did what any good young Badger would do. He tried to score some goals last night. And he was credited with 1 goal and 1 assist. Not too shabby, and normally nothing to complain about. But obviously that's exactly what I'm going to do, because he should have had 1 or 2 more goals. here's what Andy Baggot wrote today:
[Eaves and his staff] felt senior left winger Tom Gorowsky deserved a better fate. He scored a goal on the power play, but had two others waived off under highly questionable circumstances — the second with just over 5 minutes left in regulation that would have given the Badgers a two-goal lead.
The 1st non-goal occurred midway through the 2nd and would've given the Badgers a 3-0 lead. The goal didn't count, as Gorowsky was whistled for interference on what Baggot described as a "routine battle for the position in front of the net". I didn't see the play, so I can't comment informatively, but I don't really see Baggot as a Badger apologist, and I doubt he'd imply the penalty was weak unless it were.

The 2nd non-goal occurred in the 3rd and would've give the Badgers a 4-2 lead. Apparently the Dream Team of Todd Anderson and Pete Freesma thought that Goro used a "distinct kicking motion" to direct the puck in the net. Which sure is interesting, given that Tom had his back to the net and didn't even know that he had touched the puck. Again from Baggot's article:
“I don’t know how he made that distinction after watching it on video,” Gorowsky said. “I didn’t know I touched the puck at all. I saw it come through and I tried to hit it with my stick and I thought it went all the way through. I looked and it was in the back of the net.”
Needless to say, Mike Eaves wasn't happy with the officiating. And I might as well continue quoting heavily from Baggot's article:

Eaves’ voice was elevated during a postgame discussion with Greg Shepherd, the WCHA supervisor of officials. When Eaves emerged from the ante room, he was diplomatic and terse with a sense of humor thrown in when asked about the two goals that weren’t.

“I’m not going to go down that path,” he said. “Obviously they were critical times in the game. Unless I was willing to give you a $1,000 check right now — unfortunately I called my wife and she said I can’t — I’m not going to say anything about those things.”

Public criticism of game officials could result in a fine from the WCHA, something Eaves tried to avoid.

“Those viewpoints that those gentlemen have certainly aren’t the ones we have,” he said.

And hey, since I've already quoted approximately a quarter of Baggot's article, why not quote some more? Because I think that it's rare for Baggot to make excuses for a Badger loss or imply that the Badgers got screwed, and I don't get the impression he has a problem attributing responsibility for a loss to the players. But the opening of his article today indicates that he just might feel that the Badgers got screwed last night:
One minute, you could hear the voice of Mike Eaves rise in anger from behind the closed door.

The next, the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey coach was trying to employ a calmer tone to assess the rubble of another frustrating loss.

He made it look easier than it surely was.

But anyway, getting back to Tom Gorowsky, he hasn't had a hat trick or a 4-pt game in his 4 years as a Badger. He almost had both last night. Should've had both last night. But apparently Goro has some pretty bad karma lately (or the WCHA refs are incompetent, which I think is more likely). Aw hell.

Friday, February 27, 2009

F&*#

Wisconsin loses in OT to Minnesota State 4-3.

Pissing. Away. Our. Season.

Skille recalled by Hawks

Jake Skille was called up to Chicago today and is in the lineup tonight for the Hawks.

Olsen to UMD

Well...I don't know how the hell they pulled it off, but UMD landed blue chip defenseman Dylan Olsen. Olsen had been strongly considering Wisconsin and North Dakota as well. I had really, really wanted this guy in Cardinal and White BAD. Unfortunately, "technically" right now we don't lose any defensemen. We all know that McBain is gone for sure, and McDonagh is likely to go. We're required to show a player how much scholarship money we have due to Big 10 rules. Obviously we don't know until McBain and McDonagh sign deals so it does hamper us in that aspect.

Losing Olsen doesn't kill us though, since we still bring in second round pick Justin Schultz and John Ramage from the NTDP. Olsen would have looked reaaaaal good in Red though...dang.

Update: I didn't have a ton of time this morning to talk about Olsen, but I the more I think about it, the more I realize what UMD had going for it in the Olsen sweepstakes. Drunk Hockey Guy (Huge UMD Fan) pointed out on the North Dakota board that UMD has a nice "in" with Camrose where Olsen plays. Matt McKinght, Mason Raymond, McGregor Sharp, Evan Oberg, and Mike Conolly have all played at Camrose and UMD.

UMD also can guarantee plenty of playing time for Olsen. Not that he would really have struggled for playing time at North Dakota or Wisconsin with the talent he has, but he probably wont be thrust into high end playing situations like he will at UMD. Depending on departures, those huge PP minutes will be going to guys like Gardiner, Goloubef, and Smith. Even after those 3 guys, (keep in mind I'm planning on losing McDonagh and McBain) Schultz who was a second rounder and Ramage from the NTDP should see big time minutes next season. And we're not even counting Little, Springer, or Johnson who are already here.

Today in Badger Hockey History: Sweeping minnesota

From uwbadgers.com:
2/27/2000

With its 5-4 win over Minnesota at Mariucci Arena, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team records the first series sweep over the Gophers in UW hockey history, and the first road sweep over Minnesota since the 1976-77 season.

The Badgers had also beat UM on Friday night, 4-2.
In addition to sweeping the gophers at home (4-3, 5-4 OT) and on the road (4-2, 5-4), the Badgers also beat the gophers 5-3 in the WCHA semifinals.

By the way, since then, I don't think the Badgers have swept both home and road series. Their only road sweeps since were this season (3-2, 5-4) and during the 2005-06 championship season (4-3, 4-0).

It's Friday, I'm in Love

Saturday, wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday, never hesitate...
BADGER MEN @ Mankato: FRI 7:30 PM /SAT 7 PM

Gameday Links
TV: only if you live in Minnesota -- Charter Main Street
Radio: WIBA 1310 (Madison), ESPN 540 (Milwaukee, 7:30 Fri / 6:30 Sat), yahoosports ($4.95/mo), KTOE (Mankato)
Video webstream: b2live (fee)
Livestats: none? (couldn't find it on msumavericks)
Game blogs: Capobianco

Lines
Andy Bohmbach-Blake Geoffrion-Aaron Bendickson
John Mitchell-Sean Dolan-Ben Grotting
Tom Gorowsky-Derek Stepan-Michael Davies
Jordy Murray-Matt Thurber-Patrick Johnson

Jake Gardiner-McBain
Ryan McDonagh-Cody Goloubef
Brendan Smith-Craig Johnson

Shane Connelly
Scott Gudmandson

By the way, these are the same lines that Baggot reported at practice on Monday.

I really need to find someone to give me the weekly shootout winners . . .

Series Previews
uwbadgers: preview, game notes
msumavericks: none
Baggot (WSJ): UW vs. Minnesota State-Mankato preview
Breiner (Daily Cardinal): Wisconsin searches for strong finish in Mankato
Mason (Badger Herald): Wisconsin faces off in Mankato
Frederick (Mankato Free Press): MSU vs. Wisconsin
Berhow (MSU Reporter): Men's Hockey Gameday

Other Articles
Baggot (Badgerbeat blog): A lot of time to yourself
Baggot (WSJ): Psychologist tries to give UW a boost
Frederick (Mankato Free Press): MSU's Irwin finding his groove

The Usual Suspects
CHN: Tale of the Tape
USCHO: This Week in the WCHA
INCH: Soaring Sioux, Badger Blues in Mankato, Front Range Bummer; Stick salute, bench minor, weekend getaway


BADGER WOMEN v.OHIO STATE, FRI/SAT/SUN (if necessary) 7 PM -- Eagles' Nest (Verona)

Gameday Links -- EDITED TO ADD LIVE BLOG!!
TV: none
Radio: Given the venue, I don't think that WSUM (sports stream) will have it, and I won't be around to check, but you could email them if interested
Video Webstream: none
Live Stats: uwbadgers
Live blog: Anderson (uwbadgers) -- FRI

Series Previews
uwbadgers: preview, game notes
ohiostatebuckeyes: preview
Storlie (Daily Cardinal): Badgers host OSU in first WCHA playoff game
Hager (Badger Herald): Injuries no concern as teams looks to playoffs

Other Articles
Baggot (WSJ): UW's fearsome foursome vie for top honor
uwbadgers: Lawler named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week
uwbadgers: Mark Johnson's Monday presser

Sounds like Erika Lawler will play this weekend. Speaking of Lawler, apparently she was on the Wisconsin Women's Sports Hour on WTSO 1070 last night, but I missed it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NTDP Partners With USHL

Well this is being reported all over the Internet now so it's not exactly "news" to you die hards out there but for those of you who aren't aware, the NTDP will be a part of the USHL next season. In the past, the NTDP has played a full NAHL schedule.

Team USA will play a full, 60-game schedule in the USHL, as well as maintain its commitment to international and college competition. They will compete for the Anderson Cup in the regular season, and will be a participant in the Clark Cup playoffs. Team USA will also participate in the annual USHL Fall Classic, which has evolved to become the most heavily scouted and most significant try-out showcase event in hockey. The USHL expects that nearly 200 scouts will participate in this year's showcase in Sioux City, Iowa, home of the USHL Sioux City Musketeers.

I think this is a great move for the NTDP. They have had a tough time getting all the top end players like they used to and one of the issues is that kids simply don't want to play in the NAHL. For example, a player like Seth Ambroz who would be a lock for the U-17 squad next year is already playing in the USHL. There is no chance he leaves Omaha to go to the NTDP and play in the NAHL. Now, he still might not go to the NTDP but the chances are a LOT higher. Overall this should help them land higher end kids who are wary of playing in the NAHL.

There is also a huge drop off in competition for the kids playing on the U-18 squad. Part the time they are playing against D-1 college programs where the players are between 1-7 years older than they are, part of the time they are playing international competition against the best players in the world in their age group, and the other part of the time they are playing games against the NAHL? It just doesn't add up. Now having that third part of the schedule in the USHL can only help the program.

2009 Recruiting Class, they're going to be old

Last week when looking at Craig Smith’s last few games in the USHL, I noticed that he will be 20 years old when the season starts next year. So, my inquisitive mind got the better of me and I decided to look at the age of all Wisconsin’s 2009 class, and upon doing that I figured let’s compare it to the last three freshman classes when they arrived on campus. Minus early departures, this will be our 2009/2010 team.

I would like to note I used October 1st as a general beginning date for each season, to be consistent. I might be off by a month one way or another as well, I dislike adding and subtracting dates.

2009 Class (age given as of Oct 1, 2009)

Keegan Meuer – 20years, 8 months (legally partying at the KK w/ the upperclassmen by January)
Craig Smith – 20 years, 0 months
Tyler Barnes – 19 years, 7 months
Derek Lee – 19 years, 6 months
Aaron Crandall – 19 years, 6 months
Justin Schultz – 19 years, 2 months
John Ramage – 18 years, 7 months

John Ramage is the baby of the group (a term of endearment) and the only 18 year old (as of players committed today for next season). Each of the last three seasons, at least three of the incoming freshmen have been under 19 years old. This season it’s Jake Gardiner, Derek Stepan and Jordy Murray. In 2007, it was Cody Goloubef (who was not even 18), Brendan Smith, Kyle Turris, Patrick Johnson and Ryan McDonagh. Back in 2006, it was Jamie McBain, Blake Geoffrion and Nigel Williams (remember him?).

Anyway, the average age of the 2009 class will be 19 years, 7 months, which will be the oldest in the past 3 seasons. That doesn’t take into consideration Mark Zengerle who will be 20 years, 4 months next October 1st. Based on his age and his BCHL season, Eaves is going to have to make room for this kid. A 21 year old freshman? Wisconsin isn’t Mankato bringing in 24 year olds.

Average Freshman Class Age

2006 – 19 years, 6 months
2007 – 18 years, 11 months
2008 – 19 years, 1 month
2009 – 19 years, 7 months (projected)

Wow was the 2007 class young. If you were to take Craig Johnson (20 years, 10 months on October 1, 2007) out of the class, the average drops to 18 years, 8 months.

In 2006/2007, one of the biggest reasons the team struggled (or at least theorized by many) was that the team was young and inexperienced, all of this despite the age of the incoming players. The biggest frosh contributor that season was Jamie McBain (18 years, 7 months) w/ Michael Davies (19 years, 10 months) scoring some goals. While that class has turned into the heart of the current team it took them some time to get to that point. Perhaps inexperienced is a better way of describing the 06/07 and also 07/08 classes.

When I look at the 2009 class, I don’t see the same thing happening. I see three guys (Craig Smith, Derek Lee and Justin Schultz) who should be immediate contributors. I see three other guys (Tyler Barnes, Keegan Meuer and John Ramage) who could go from being a regular healthy scratch to playing every night the whole season, especially Ramage. Aaron Crandall probably won’t see much action. I’m also hoping 1st Star Zengerle finds his way to Madison; otherwise I think despite his words he’ll be donning a different uniform.

While there is still some season left, it’s always good to know that things are looking bright for next season. Eaves & company have assembled a really good class, it doesn’t have the high NHL draft pick appeal, but this group is talented and other than Schutlz we should see these kids in Madison for at least three seasons. Top to bottom these kids will come in ready to contribute to the program’s continued success. Hopefully that success reverts to challenging for WCHA titles and being a perennial NCAA team, instead of fighting for WCHA 1st round home ice and being on the NCAA bubble. I’m still bitter following this past weekend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So much for the favorable 2nd half schedule

When sitting around the Christmas tree this year, there might have been a Badger fan somewhere who looked at their 2nd half schedule and saw good things coming for the Wisconsin Men’s Hockey team. The Badgers were currently riding a high going 9-1-1 in their past 11 games after starting 0-6-1. Things looked really bright, Wisconsin was going to play 12 of their last 18 games at home. Sure those WCHA opponents who were visiting the Kohl Center weren’t going to be easy, but they were going to be played at home!

Well let’s fast forward two months, and things have not turned out the way anyone thought they would. W/ four games left in the regular season, instead of having cemented their place in the NCAA tourney and fighting for the MacNaughton Cup, the Badgers are fighting for an NCAA berth and hoping to hold on for 1st round home ice. Playing not to lose even in the standings?

At home in the 2nd half of the season, the Badgers are a pathetic 3-6-1. What’s even funnier is that the Badgers are 4-0 on the road, and those two road series were not the easiest in the WCHA for different reasons. In January, the Badgers flew to Alaska for a series w/ the Seawolves. While UAA is not a top team in the WCHA, the long trip and time zone change is not an easy adjustment, especially to come away w/ a sweep. In February, the Badgers traveled to Mariucci and pulled off an improbable sweep of the gophers. Sure Wangas sucks, but this is a real accomplishment.

The home schedule has not included the same amount of smiles and good cheer, so let’s review where things went wrong.

Dec 27th vs Alabama Huntsville in the Showdown – The Badgers dominate play all night, including a record low shots allowed during a game (10). 6th win in a row for the team.

Dec 28th vs Lake Superior State in the Showdown Final – The Lakers came to play, winning puck battles and regularly out hustling the Badgers all game. The Lakers score late in the 3rd and are answered by a soft John Mitchell goal. The game ends in a tie, and based on their lax play, the Badgers really didn’t deserve the win anyway.

Jan 2nd vs N. Michigan – Just like last Sunday, Northern comes to play and the Badgers don’t. In the end, Northern steals a win as the Badgers can’t muster enough offense to offset Northern’s hard play.

Jan 3rd vs N. Michigan – Do I really need to rehash this disaster? 3 goal lead lost in last ten minutes, lose in OT. A great example of Wisconsin’s unsuccessful tenancy to play not to lose late in the game, not the last time we’ll see this.

Jan 16th vs CC – Badgers crush the Tigers.

Jan 17th vs CC - The Badgers are the better team most of the night except for a two minute stretch in the 2nd where they give up three goals. W/ the score tied in the 3rd, Wisconsin again plays not to lose and we all remember what the result was right?

Jan 30th vs Duluth – Stalock sucks, Badgers win!

Jan 31th vs Duluth – The good times on Saturday night at the KC continue. Gorowsky misses an open net in the 1st, but he wasn’t the only one who didn’t finish a scoring chance. Stalock was luckier than good, Duluth scores late, the Badgers can’t answer. In the 3rd, it again appeared they playing not to lose since they lost all confidence to score. On top of that, no one can finish by the net, which I then realize has been a reoccurring problem all season.

Feb 20th vs Denver – The Badgers play their best 10 minutes of the season to start the game, but again can’t finish and only snag a 2 goal lead. It should have been 5-0 by this point. It goes back and forth though the Badgers take the lead in the 3rd. Several blown chances at the empty net and a poor clearing attempt; hey what to know the game is tied! Denver led only once in the game, when they scored 45 or so seconds into OT.

Feb 21st vs Denver – One of the most pathetic displays fans have ever seen by the Badgers. They got down early and that never stopped. Has shots on goal ever been more misleading in a game? Patrick Wierdcock gets the better of the Badger top blue liners again, much to my disappointment. Denver’s nine fans (who weren’t parents) celebrate at the Badgerland after the game.

There isn’t much more to say. Wisconsin had the most favorable 2nd half schedule any team in the WCHA could have asked for. Now here they sit, four games left. Mankato has not been an easy place to play for the Badgers, though based on their road success this half of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them sweep. The Badgers have split the last two series at home w/ North Dakota, but both of those were early in the past two seasons when the Sioux don’t quite have it together. They are hot right now, I thought the Badgers would be too after the gopher sweep, but it appears Denver again was kryptonite at the Kohl Center.

What really angers me is that looking back over those home games, realistically there is no reason the Badgers couldn't be 10-0-0. I think even DU fans would agree had the Badgers not had their heart ripped out on friday, the saturday game would have been completely different. As for the five other losses and the tie, there is no reason the Badgers shouldn't have won most if not all of those games. They were the better team, but between lack of hustle, not finishing scoring chances and most importantly playing not to lose late in the game instead of playing to win, the team is 3-6-1.

The team has to know everything is on the line again this weekend. Sad thing is, since the N. Michigan series’ failures, everything has been on the line. How many times can it be brought up before the team actually believes it and starts showing that attitude on the ice?

60 minutes, no alibis, no regrets; is this the weekend the team plays to win every shift?

Badger Men's Hockey: Trying to find a spark

Andy Baggot tells us that Mike Eaves has been mixing up the lines as "an act of trying to stimulate, create something new". I don't know if that'll help or not, but the Badgers gotta do something to find a spark.

Eaves talked about last weekend's sweep by Denver in his Monday press conference.

In Monday's Badger Herald, Mike Bleach talked about positives from last weekend. Believe it or not, as disheartening as last weekend was, I could come up with some positives, too. Unfortunately, those positives aren't going to do anyone a bit of good if the Badgers can't figure out: a.) how to hang on to a lead, b.) how to respond to losing the lead, or c.) how to respond to getting behind early. I thought the Badgers had gained some resilience and ability to respond to adversity earlier in the season, but those attributes weren't evident this past weekend.

Wednesday morning catch-up

That's right kids, it's time for another catch-up linkorama.
  • The Daily Cardinal wraps up the Badger Women's sweep of Bemidji

  • Sophomore forward Maria Evans and senior goaltender Ryan Jeffery were named WCHA Scholar-Athletes. Nice work, Maria and Ryan.

  • The Daily Cardinal and The Badger Herald take a look at the Badgers' 4 Patty Kaz candidates: Jessie Vetter, Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan, and Erika Lawler.

  • Speaking of the Patty Kaz, the NHL Foundation is continuing its support.

  • Gearing up for the 2010 Olympic Games, hockeycanada is profiling players who are likely to make the women's Olympic team, including Badger Bobbie Jo Slusar.

  • Hockeycanada is also asking prominent Canadians to name their rosters for Canada's Men's Olympic Team, and Badger Meaghan Mikkelson weighs in with her choices, including Badger Dany Heatley.

  • I haven't really been following the WIAA state hockey tourney, but DPlaya tells me the following:
    • #1 Appleton and UW recruit Matt Paape were upset Tuesday by potential UW recruit Wes Wauters and Ashwaubenon. Appleton had been undefeated.
    • Madison Edgewood with UW recruit Cody Strang won Tuesday and have advanced to their Sectional final.
    Needless to say, I recommend not relying on me for additional information; much better choices include HIW, Wisconsin Prep Hockey, and No Sleep Til Madison.

  • When the Badgers get us down, I suppose we might as well take some comfort in the gophers also being down. I'd rather be celebrating Badger victories, but since that wasn't in the cards last weekend, I'll allow myself to be entertained by this and this from Goon.

  • This is over a week old, but I keep forgetting to post it. WQOW has an interview with Derrick LaPoint. Thanks to Michael Trzinski of Wisconsin Prep Hockey for pointing it out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Weekly Poll ?

I've grown tired of the regular weekly poll question. It began when Ratty Johnson questioning his role on the team and if he should play the trash talking, free wielding player of last season. Hell he owned Joe Finley, played on the top line and was drafted by the Canadiens last season, if its not broke what's to fix?

His teammates didn't play w/ much intensity saturday night either, and sapped some of my life force in the process. I'm pretty sure I heard a pin drop in the 3rd period, anyone else?

On top of all this, other than their goalie, I couldn't name a single player on the Mankato team, and why would I be able to? Whether its gopher, Huskie or Bulldog rejects, they all end up at Mankato.

So that begs the question, what is worse than being a Purple Cow and going to school at Mankato?

Option #1 - Having the DECC as your home arena. Not only does asbestos rain down from the ceiling, their student section has a hard time mastering any cheers that involve chanting more than the same word twice. An example would be Stalock, Stalock, which I could tell took some mighty brain power to devise. Maybe the DECC was great back in the 1970's, but now its just a DUMP.

Option #2 - Being Alex Kangas. This would should be pretty self explanatory. If giving up 48 goals and having a 3-8-1 record in your last 12 games isn't bad enough, you can't spell sex w/ a kangaroo w/ out Kangas. If I posted his picture, I doubt any other choice would get a vote.

Option #3 - The elevator(s) at North Dakota's hotel during TJ Oshie tenure. While at North Dakota, TJ Oshie was good at several things. He was one of the best forwards in the WCHA, was outstanding at being a stick holding bitch, liked to piss in elevators, and had a girlfriend that was passed around by everyone in Grand Forks like a dish at a potluck.

Option #4 - March 20, 2009 in Houghton, MI. March 20th is the 1st day of Spring and also the semis of the WCHA Final Five. On March 20th in Madison, Spring might actually be in the air and w/ April right around the corner warm temps are on their way. Not the case in Houghton, ice fishermen are getting their 3rd wind and if back on Ground Hog's day, the ground hog shadow didn't mean 6 weeks, it meant 6 more months of winter. On top of that Tech's season will be over. Look on the bright side, when summer does arrive it will only briefly get in the way of next winter.

BCHL Playoffs set, Recruits garner awards

Last weekend was the final weekend of the regular season in the British Columbia Hockey League. Here are the standings. The good news, all three Badger recruits will have their seasons continue into the playoffs. Derek Lee and the Victoria Grizzles finished as the top seed in the Coastal Conference, and have a bye in the 1st round. Also receiving a buy in the first round are the Salmon Arm Silverbacks where Mark "1st Star" Zengerle has dominated all season. They are the the #2 seed in the Interior Conference.

Also in the Interior Conference, Justin Schultz and the Westside Warriors finished as the #3 seed. No rest for Justin as the Warriors begin their 1st round series against the Trail Smoke Eaters this weekend. GL to Justin and the Warriors!

Scoring wise, 1st Star Zengerle made a great push, but finished second in the league in scoring w/ 31-62-93. He did finish first in pts/game (1.7 pts/game) and assists. Great season for 1st Star! Not to be out done, Derek Lee ended up tied for 22nd in league scoring w/ 12-45-57. He was tied for 5th overall in assists. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he really brought his best late in the season, he was around 55th in scoring about a month ago. Lastly, Justin Schultz finished 5th among defensemen in scoring w/ 15-35-50. Justin led all defensmen in pts/game (1 pt/game).

All three recruits had a great regular season, and two of them received top awards for their efforst. 1st Star Zengerle was named MVP of the Interior Conference and Justin Schutlz was named Top Defenseman of the Interior Conference! Nice work boys! I believe Justin was ROY in the Interior Conf last season.

I can't wait to see all three of these kids in the Cardinal and White, hopefully next season.

New Badger Recruit Stat Update

Since Todd Milewski will no longer be covering Badger hockey, I put together a similar database to keep track of recruiting statistics. You can find that here. (You can also click on the image below to view) I don't know how often it will be updated but I will try my hardest to keep it going. If you happen to notice any flaws, please e-mail me and let me know.

I also plan to keep track of potential recruit stats on there eventually as well. I have small list of players that I know for sure we are in the running for and other players who may be of interest. I will be adding them over the next few weeks as I get the time. If you personally know of a player Wisconsin is targeting, please e-mail me so we can get him on the list. If you have any questions concerns or comments what so ever, leave a comment or e-mail me and I'll get back to you.

(Click on Image to enlarge Stats)



















chuckschwartz@live.com

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tony Granato gets 100th career win

On Friday, the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Washington Capitals 4-1 to give Badger Tony Granato his 100th career win as an NHL head coach. Apparently Granato is the 10th American-born head coach to win 100 games. Congratulations, Tony Granato!

Unfortunately, the Avs aren't having a stellar season this year -- in Granato's 2nd go-round as head coach, the Avs are sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference with a 28-30-1 record (although there's not much separation between the bottom 5 teams). In his 1st stint as head coach, Granato had a 32-11-4 coaching record in 2002-03 (after replacing Bob Hartley mid-season) and a 40-22-13 coaching record in 2003-04.

Mirtle's Selke Watch

Several days ago, James Mirtle took a look at the competition for the 2009 Selke Trophy, and it appears that a number of Badgers are in the running.


NAME TEAM GP QCMP EVGAA SHGAA
4JOE PAVELSKI S.J 520.032.184.36
5RENE BOURQUE CGY 560.062.176.39
28ADAM BURISH CHI 37-0.071.394.73

Badger Women sweep Bemidji

Friday: Badgers 3 - Beavers 0
box: uwbadgers, collegehockeystats
recaps: uwbadgers, bemidjistate


Saturday: Badgers 5 - Beavers 2
box: uwbadgers, collegehockeystats
recaps: uwbadgers, bemidjistate


Minnesota also swept this weekend, beating St. Cloud 7-0 and 3-1. The Badgers finished just 1 point behind Minnesota in the WCHA regular season standings.

The Badgers will host Ohio State next weekend for 1st-round WCHA playoffs. The games are scheduled for Friday 7 PM, Saturday 7 PM, and (if necessary) Sunday 7 PM at the Eagles' Nest in Verona. Seating at the Eagles' Nest is limited, so it's a good idea to get tickets as soon as possible.

EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to mention -- it looked like Erika Lawler was reinjured scoring the Badgers' 5th goal at 8:49 of the 3rd period. I'm a bit chagrined to say I didn't notice and didn't think to look, but WHKY Blogger indicates that Lawler did not return to the ice for the rest of the game.

I probably shouldn't bother . . .

"The first rule of thumb is that when you are in a hole, you stop digging, but we kept digging. It was a long night."

-- Mike Eaves
I'm not quite sure why I'm bothering to link this up today, because I can't imagine anyone really wants to look at any of the game stories. I know I don't. Watching last night's game was bad enough; I don't really need to read any recaps.

Box
uwbadgers
collegehockeystats

Recaps
uwbadgers: Badgers beat out by Pioneers
denverpioneers: Cheverie and Wiercioch star in sweep at Wisconsin
Baggot (WSJ): Ugly loss caps lost weekend
Worgull (BN): Losing control
Worgull (USCHO): Denver pounds Wisconsin
CHN: Saturday game gab
Potrykus (Milwaukee JS blog): Connelly struggles, Denver routs UW 5-0
Rocky Mountain News: Pioneers crush Badgers
Let's Go DU: Denver 5 - Wisconsin 0

Photos
Ugarriza (WSJ Badgerbeat): Game 1
Ugarriza (WSJ Badgerbeat): Game 2

If you're really a glutton for punishment, you could listen to the postgame presser on uwbadgers.com. Might be a bit less painful to read the partial transcript on Badger Nation (premium content).

Also, Todd has more on John Mitchell's hit on Tyler Ruegsegger.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

gophers of the Front Range 5 Wisconsin Square Root of Zero

Between all their crying and whining, Denver managed to score 5 goals, and the Badgers managed to dishearten 15,000 of their fans.

Pios 4 - Badger 3

Box: uwbadgers, collegehockeystats

uwbadgers: UW falls in overtime to DU
denverpioneers: DU's Kohl Center magic continues with OT win

Baggot (WSJ): Bad habits collide to wreck UW vs. Denver
Worgull (BN): Same old story
Worgull (USCHO): Denver stuns Wisconsin
Oates (WSJ): Badgers' cup running dry
Potrykus (Milwaukee JS): Tough to stomach
Slinger (Rocky Mountain News): DU stuns Wisconsin
CHN: Friday roundup and analysis


Today, on Let's Go DU, dggoddard posted the following :
In a game that DU had no business tying, much less winning, the Denver
Pioneers committed highway robbery in the Kohl Center Friday night. Denver was
badly outshot, outplayed and outhustled for much of the game, but timely goals,
heroic effort and blind luck trumped all.

And his post title indicates that he thinks it was a bit of a miracle for DU to win. But I don't know, dg, experience has shown me that the Badgers are pretty competent at pissing away a lead and losing a game that they shouldn't have lost, without an intervening miracle for the opposing (and ultimately winning) team. (Yeah, I'm a bit cranky this morning.)

Futility in OT

Anyone out there remember the last time Wisconsin actually won a game in OT? Anyone? If you can't you shouldn't be too surprised; it's been almost two years. Likely you had a guess unlike the girl representing the students in the 200 level who couldn't name a single Badger player last night during the 2nd intermission. I'm blaming the loss squarely on her.

But I'm off topic. The answer to the question is: Ben Street's game winner w/ 10 seconds left over St. Cloud in the 2007 Final Five 3rd place game. March 17, 2007 was the date, about 23 months ago.

Since that time, Wisconsin has played 15 OT games and not won a single one. They are the only team in the WCHA not to win an OT game in the last two seasons. I don't think this is coincidence either. The team seems to take their foot off the pedal when they are up or tied late in a game, playing not to lose instead of playing to win. A great example is N. Michigan several saturday nights ago. W/ 10 minutes left, the Badgers up by 3, they start to coast. It was brutally obvious to anyone in attendance that N. Michigan gave it their all while the Badgers were sitting back letting the game come to them, to their eventual DOOM. Worry about who's buying the first round at the KK after the game perhaps?

The minnesota game last friday and CC five saturdays back ring a bell too. Thinking back to last season, I could start listing off home games that went to OT and the Badgers played not to lose. When the Badgers are aggressive (especially this season) good things seem to happen. I think they almost make less mistakes when they are taking it to the opponent than sitting back waiting for the game to come to them. More puck battles won, less flat footedness in the defensive zone, better decision making.

Ok, the Badgers haven't won an OT game in almost two seasons, how does that compare to the rest of the WCHA? Not good. Here are the Badgers record in OT the last four seasons:

08/09: 0-2-3
07/08: 0-3-7
06/07: 2-3-4
05/06: 2-1-3 (Skille from Engel in 3OTs in GB)
Total: 4-9-17

I used the last four seasons, since that is a good reference point back to the seniors on the team. No one on the current team was playing in 04/05.

Let's take a look at the rest of the WCHA over the last four seasons. Their 08/09 OT record is in ( ). I've listed them in order of OT winning % over this time period.

Denver: 7-3-12 (2-1-4), 0.590 %
North Dakota: 9-5-11 (2-0-3), 0.580%
Colorado College: 9-6-16 (1-0-8), 0.548%
Mankato: 9-6-17 (1-0-3), 0.547%
Duluth: 8-5-21 (1-0-6), 0.544%
St. Cloud: 8-6-18 (0-0-2), 0.531%
minnesota: 6-9-23 (1-0-6), 0.460%
Michigan Tech: 5-8-22 (0-2-6), 0.457%
Alaska Anchorage: 4-7-19 (1-2-5), 0.450%
Wisconsin: 4-9-17 (0-2-3), 0.417%

Winning in OT doesn't mean everything, especially if you are winning games in regulation. The problem is, the Badgers have been riding the NCAA tourney bubble the last two seasons. In 06/07 they were the first team out, last season the last team in, this season...well that remains to be seen. I'm no RPI expert, but I'm thinking W's count for more than T's (sarcasm intended for DU fans who are unable to decipher it). On top of that, last season when the Badgers went 0-3-7, if they turn one of those WCHA T's into a W, they host St. Cloud in the 1st round of the WCHA playoffs.

I'm guessing the "hold on for the tie" attitude is something that is coached. At this point, their is no more holding on for anything. Wisconsin needs to make it happen and make it happen now! Whether its regulation or OT, the Badgers shouldn't be taking their foot off the accelerator until the final buzzer sounds of the final game of the season. I'm still hoping that is saturday night April 11th in Washington DC at the Frozen Four.

60 minutes, no alibis, no regrets; time for the Badgers to start playing to win every shift.

Ruckus the Red Tailed Hawk 4 Badgers 3 OT

Wow...I'm relatively speechless about the game even after a night of sleep.

The Badgers led 3-2 w/ 2 minutes to play, Denver scored a fluck goal w/ about 15 seconds left and then promotely won the game less than a minute into OT. (N. Michigan flashbacks anyone?)

Before that, the Badgers had two decent chances at the empty net, and on both goals allowed (and an earlier one) couldn't clear the zone at critical junctions.

The team came out and pounded DU for the 1st ten minutes, and then it was back and forth before the team reasserted control in the 3rd period, of course until the very end.

When they went to OT I knew it was either a loss or a tie for the Badgers, more on this later this morning.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lament for Todd Milewski

Don't worry, I'm not going to write an actual lament, as I'm hardly that poetic. But I since I just wrote It's Friday I'm in Love but wasn't able to say who won this week's shootout, I'm feeling a bit maudlin about the loss of Todd on the Badger Hockey beat. In addition to the shootout update, other things I've missed this week include: Todd's Thursday rink reports, whatever feature article Todd would've written about the team or one of the players this week, "All Eyes on" and "Points to Ponder" in Todd's series preview, Todd's Tuesday alumni/recruit posts with links and stats updates, and I'm sure a bunch of other stuff that just isn't occurring to me right now. And of course this weekend I'll miss his game stories, as well as his gameday blogs with "Did You Notice", "3 Stars", and interesting blurbs that don't make it into the game stories.

I'd now like to point out a final blog post by Todd - which, unless you've been checking his Ice House blog since it's untimely demise, you probably haven't seen. (Honestly, I don't know what it says about me that, despite knowing that Todd is no longer writing his Ice House blog, I continue to check it on pretty much a daily basis. )

Thanks from The Ice House

We got an inquiry the other day as to my whereabouts, and I figured this was the best place to answer. I have been reassigned to be a multimedia producer for The Capital Times, so I won't be on the Wisconsin men's hockey beat.

To be honest, the news was a little hard for me to take because I have a passion for covering college hockey and, probably foolishly, thought I'd be doing it forever. But things change in life, and I'm happy to still be able to work for the CT. And I'm excited about my new role, which has me involved in video production and other multimedia efforts like we did at Minnesota a couple of weeks ago.

I won't be dropping off the college hockey scene completely, though. My blog at USCHO.com will keep going -- maybe even grow -- and I'll still be writing for that site as long as they'll have me.

Thanks to everyone who sent along comments or info in the past six seasons, and to everyone who made The Ice House one of the best-read blogs at captimes.com.


I do hope, as intimated by Todd, that his From the Press Box blog at USCHO will grow.

And in response to Todd's thanks to his readers, I'd like to thank Todd for the fantastic coverage that he's provided over the years. Thanks again, Todd!

I again regret the decision that the CT made in eliminating their Badger Hockey beat writer position. If you'd like, you can share your thoughts (hopefully in a polite, non-ranting way) about the CT's decision by emailing the following: Editor Paul Fanlund (pfanlund@madison.com), Managing Editor Judy Ettenhofer (jettenhofer@madison.com), and Sports Editor Adam Mertz (amertz2@madison.com).

Hockey @ Camp Randall - an update (sort of)

Andy Baggot has an update about the lack of updates concerning the potential outdoor game at Camp Randall Stadium.
UW coach Mike Eaves acknowledged Thursday that an announcement was supposed to come in January, but said it's now been put off until March and he was unable to give specifics for the hold-up.

"It's getting all the ducks in a row,'' he said.

Eaves said he was unaware of any major glitches that would jeopardize the game, which organizers hope will draw a world-record crowd of 80,000-plus for an outdoor hockey game.

From this, we can glean that they'd plan on putting the rink right in the center of the field, in order to try and fill all the seats and eclipse the attendance record from the Cold War Game between Michigan and Michigan State in 2001. Spartan Stadium was at 103% capacity for the game, with a total attendance of over 75,000 people. Given that Camp Randall's current capacity is in excess of 80,000 people (and that the extra field space for a hockey game can further increase attendance with the inclusion of full marching bands, etc), a sellout would set the world record for hockey attendance.

Baggot also had some pricing information:
Another source said tickets for the UW-Michigan game will likely be priced around $15.
That's a perfectly reasonable price. With that, I think selling it out is definitely possible. Wisconsin drew just under 41,000 for a game against a far less prestigious hockey opponent (Ohio State) in a non-Madison city (Green Bay). Doubling that for a game against Michigan in Camp Randall should be easily attainable.

(H/T - Ricecloud9 over in the Lunatic Fringe)

A few other WCHA/NCAA odds and ends

  • Mankato's Trevor Bruess has received a 1-game suspension from the WCHA for his hit on UND's Derrick LaPoint. Todd Milewski weighs in on the WCHA's vague statement that accompanied the suspension.
  • CHN reports that the D-I Men's Ice Hockey Committee is satisfied with the ice in DC.

  • CHN makes its entry into the PairWise discussion with its first installment of NCAA Tournament Bracket ABC's. Wisconsin is in the "mushy middle".

  • For what it's worth, INCH and The College Hockey Blog both have Wisconsin in their latest bracket predictions. (These predictions are for what the final brackets will be at the end of the season, as opposed to USCHO's Bracketology which looks at what the brackets would be if the season ended today.)

It's Friday, I'm in Love

Monday, you can hold your head
Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed
Or Thursday - watch the walls instead
It's Friday, I'm in love

BADGER MEN v. DENVER: FRI/SAT 7 PM

Gameday Links
TV: Friday - NHL Network, MyMadison TV; Saturday - FSN WI, FSN RM; both nights - tape-delay on WPT
Radio: WIBA 1310 (Madison), ESPN 540 (Milwaukee), yahoosports ($4.95/mo)
Video webstream: none
Livestats: uwbadgers
Game blogs: none that I'm aware of

Lines
Andy Bohmbach-Blake Geoffrion-Tom Gorowsky
Jordy Murray-Derek Stepan-Michael Davies
John Mitchell-Aaron Bendickson-Ben Grotting
Patrick Johnson-Sean Dolan-Matt Thurber

Brendan Smith-Jamie McBain
Ryan McDonagh-Cody Goloubef
Jake Gardiner-Craig Johnson

Shane Connelly
Scott Gudmandson

So, looks like Thurber's back in and Turnbull's back out, with Bardis and Hickey sitting as well.

As you know, Smith is back. I remember reading in one of the articles that Smith's minutes may be monitored but that he'll return to his spot on the 2nd PP unit. Little and Springer are both healthy scratches. Depending on how things go tonight, I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see one of them replace CJ on Saturday, although I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see CJ play both nights, either.

Series Previews
uwbadgers: preview, game notes
denverpioneers: preview, game notes

Baggot (WSJ): UW vs. Denver preview
Baggot (WSJ Badger Blog): Picking at old wounds
Breiner (Daily Cardinal): UW ready to battle for top spot
Bleach (Badger Herald): Men's hockey to host 1st place UD (sic)
Savidge (Daily Cardinal): UW aims to get back on track against Denver
Byers (Badger Herald): Rematch against Denver brings playoff implications
Worgull (BN): Charting the course (premium content)
Joyce (Isthmus): Underrated rivalry
Rooney (Rocky Mountain News): Pioneers face tough test against Badgers

Other Articles
Baggot (WSJ): Small details could make big difference
Baggot (WSJ): Wiercioch is UW's loss, Denver's gain
Chambers (Denver Post): Wiercioch expecting to hear boos
Breiner (Daily Cardinal): McBain steps up as a leader
Mason (Badger Herald): Craig Johnson makes noise on the ice
Baggot (WSJ Badger Blog): Seeing is believing (John Mitchell)

From the Lunatic Fringe (and I use that phrase affectionately here)
Let's Go DU: Wisconsin blogger notes Wiercioch's success
Puck Swami's Know Your Foe: The University of Wisconsin Badgers
And of course, our contributions (courtesy of Gandalf): Boo for Patrick Who; Man, defecting isn't cool

I'm a bit confused, though. (Yeah, yeah, I know.) Why are all of Puck Swami's blog entries posted by dggoddard?

The Usual Suspects
CHN: Tale of the Tape
USCHO: This Week in the WCHA
INCH: WCHA stick salute, bench minor, great weekend getaway; Checking in around the WCHA; Hobey Tracker (McBain)


BADGER WOMEN v. BEMIDJI, FRI/SAT 2 PM

Gameday Links
TV: none
Radio: WIBA 1310 (Sat only)
Video Webstream: both games - uwbadgers
Live Stats: uwbadgers
Live blog: none (away games only)

Series Previews
uwbadgers: preview, game notes
bemidjistate: game notes
Donahue (Badger Herald): In home finale, Badgers face off vs. Bemidji State
Storlie (Daily Cardinal): One more time for senior class

Other Articles
uwbadgers: Ammerman earns 4th WCHA honor
uwbadgers: Evans announced as WCHA scholar-athlete
Mosgaller (Badger Herald): Johnson leaving coaching void (2009-10)
Baggot (WSJ Badger Blog): Proposed facility update

On Saturday, the Badgers will honor the senior class. From Jacqueline Boscacci's Badger Women's Hockey Insider:
At Saturday’s game the Badgers will honor its best class to ever come through the Wisconsin women’s hockey program. The class of 2009 has been to the NCAA title game in each of its last three seasons, winning twice. Seniors Jessie Vetter, Erika Lawler, Alycia Matthews, Rachel Bible, Angie Keseley and Kayla Hagen will all be honored for all of their contributions to the Badgers success over their years.
Also per Boscacci's Insider, the Badgers will also honor their fans on Saturday with Fan Appreciation Day. Fans will get a raffle ticket upon entry for a chance to win prizes during the game. Students get in free with a valid student ID and will get free pizza (while supplies last.)

Around the WCHA: 3 weekends left to daylight savings

The standings are no clearer now than they were last week. It’s a three team race for the MacNaughton. Last week the following happened:

North Dakota swept Mankato
UAA snagged a point against minnesota
St. Cloud swept Michigan Tech
Denver and CC ended in a tie in their lone game
CC also lost to the US NTDP (though John Ramage did not crack the score sheet)

So the standings look like this:

1 - Denver - 23 games - 29 pts
1 - North Dakota - 22 games - 29 pts
3 - Wisconsin - 22 games - 28 pts
4 - CC - 23 games - 25 pts
5 - St. Cloud - 24 games - 25 pts
6 - minnesota - 22 games - 24 pts
7 - Duluth - 22 games - 23 pts
8 - Mankato - 24 games - 20 pts
9 - UAA - 24 games - 19 pts
10 - Tech - 24 games - 8 pts

All of the contenders play each weekend from here on out. The biggest matchup this week is the one we’ll all be watching in person or on the NHL Network tonight at the Kohl Center. A sweep by either Wisconsin or Denver puts that team in a great position. A split would mean the Seawolves need to do well at home against North Dakota, which I think it possible. UAA has only been swept twice all season, both by the Badgers.

Denver @ Wisconsin – Hell w/ it, Badgers SWEEP!
North Dakota @ UAA – UAA does their part gaining a split
Duluth @ Tech – Come on Huskies! Tech gains their 2nd WCHA win
minnesota @ CC – Split, CC will play well one night
Mankato @ Nebraska Omaha – Tuesday night game, Mankato needs to win this game

Time to cheer hard for the Seawolves, Huskies and Land Cows.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Smith back on the blue line

This might have been mentioned early by 60, but Brendan Smith is definately back in the lineup for Wisconsin this weekend. He was just on "On Wisconsin" w/ Brian Posick, and is very excited to get back in the lineup and make a difference down the stretch. This is some great news! Smith will once again be paired w/ All-American and Hobey Baker Candidate Jamie McBain. Smith's one-timer on the PP was dominate in the 1st half of the season, and I except McBain to benefit having Smith back on the other side of the ice. While the PP has been good w/ Smith out of the lineup, w/ his return the 1st unit should do even better.

As for Jake Gardiner, it appears he'll be headed back to the 3rd pairing w/ some combination of Craig Johnson, Eric Springer and Ryan Little. Johnson probably has the inside track, but I would expect all three to see some action down the stretch. As for Gardiner, I thought he played well paired w/ McBain for the past month, and has really grown as a player.

I never thought I'd be so excited to have Smith back in the lineup. Last season, he regularly made me cringe, but he has really shored things up on the defensive side of the ice, and while he still have room for improvement, is no longer a liability. On the flip side, his offensive skills were really shining through before injury.

Boo for Patrick Who?

Ma60 and Rabidbucky on buckyville needs to be given proper credit for the Patrick Who? moniker.

As EoDS points out in a previous post, "Badger Reject" and perhaps even a "Judas" chant might come from the student section this weekend. Fans should feel free to join in early and often, and don't be afraid to boo every time #28 has the puck.

Andy Baggot gets into the act today in the WSJ. Warning: some of the comments left below the article are asinine, left by Phil Kessel sympathizers.

He loved the energy of the crowds at the Kohl Center. He liked the idea of testing his near-4.0 grade-point average in a strong academic environment. He got glowing reports about UW from childhood friend Kyle Turris as well as Wisconsinite and junior-league roommate Matt Thurber.

I wonder how those "tough" classes at DU are challenging his grade point average?

Matt Thurber better be in the lineup this weekend.

Wiercioch said he expects a less-than-enthusiastic reception at the Kohl Center this weekend. Thurber verified that notion.

"I'm sure it's on everyone's mind in there," he said, nodding toward the UW dressing room, "showing him that the decision he made we feel could have been better."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mike Johnson will not be an option for Wisconsin

Many Wisconsin fans have been concerned with the goaltending situation for Wisconsin in the next few seasons. Aaron Crandall has been putrid in the USHL so far in two seasons. This has led many fans to wonder what other options are out there to either replace Crandalls commitment or possibly another option to bring in with Crandall.

Wisconsin somewhat solved this issue when they decided to bring in Brett Bennett, a transfer from Boston University who is playing for Indiana of the USHL. Bennett who will be a junior when he enters Wisconsin has been stellar so far this season.

The most popular suggestion has been Madison native Mike Johnson who stars for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the USHL. Johnson was an all star this season and has posted very good numbers. No Alibis, No Regrets talked with Johnson today who informed us that Wisconsin is out of the question as an option for him. Johnson is currently considering I'm considering a bunch of schools but the ones that have the most interest are Notre Dame, Maine, Bowling Green, and Alaska Anchorage.

More than likely I see Wisconsin bringing in Bennett for sure to supplement Gudmandson next season. I also think they will bring in Crandall to get him out of the hell hole that is the Des Moines Buccaneers. Get him some confidence back, get him in the UW system, and maybe things will change.

Stimulus Package

From INCH's Cocktail Napkin...
• Wisconsin guaranteed entry into NCAA tournament because of Badger fans' proclivity to, uhh, lubricate the local economy.
I, for one, hope UW makes it to DC to show this town what stimulus is all about, to say nothing of lubrication.

I've dropped hints that they should pursue the same 4 am bar time extension they had in place for the Presidential Inauguration, but I haven't quite convinced the powers that be of the draw that is Wisconsin Hockey.

Brett Bennett Is USHL Goalie Of The Week

Goaltender Brett Bennett who recently committed to the University of Wisconsin has been named the USHL goaltender of the week. There has been a ton of drama surrounding the goaltending recruiting situation at Wisconsin lately. If Bennett keeps putting up weeks like this hopefully it will ease all of our minds.

Press Release

Bennett had another sparkling week in net for Indiana, helping them win a pair of games. On Wednesday, he made 23 saves in a 4-0 shutout win over Des Moines, his second shutout of the year. Then on Friday he stopped 33 shots in a 3-1 win over East Divsion leading Cedar Rapids. He was 2-0-0 with a 0.50 goals against average and a .982 save percentage for the week.

Honorable Mention - Michael Houser (DM), Mike Lee (FAR), Jeff Teglia (OMA)

Thanks to D-playa for the original story.
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Also in goaltender recruiting news, D-playa has videos up of the 10 goals against night that Aaron Crandall had the other day. All I have to say is, wow...Des Moines looks like my pee wee team.

Man, defecting isn't cool

The picture to the left is Decepticon Starscream of the popular 80s cartoon Transformers. In the show, Starscream unendingly worked to undermine the authority of Megatron the leader of the Decepticons. Unforunately for Starscream, for all his hard work, at the end of the day he was nothing more than a flunky who couldn’t back up his talk.

That is similar to the greasy haired blue liner pictured below named Patrick Wiercioch (or Patrick Who? for Ma60). Wiercioch once gave his word to Coach Mike Eaves and the Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Hockey team, but in the end he couldn’t back up his word and defected to Denver when a “better” opportunity (for the record there is no better opportunity than playing on the blue line at Wisconsin) opened up. To his credit, he does come through on the ice, and is one of the top freshman in the country. Patrick Wiercioch is a Defecticon, someone whose word means nothing and will jump on the earliest train out of town when it suits his needs.


Picture from nhl.com

The 2nd round pick of Ottawa, will he be skipping town again for the pro's, this time Denver's loss?

Below is a timeline of the events surrounding the Defecticon’s Denver defection.

Sept 7, 2007 – Wiercioch is interested in UW among other schools including Denver, Michigan, Michigan State and New Hampshire.

Jan 27, 2008 – Wiercioch verbally commits to Wisconsin for either 2008 OR 2009.

March 22, 2008 – I attend the Omaha Lancers @ Green Bay Gamblers and instantly become a huge Wiercioch fan.

May 10, 2008 – The Omaha Lancers hoist the Clark Cup as USHL Champs and Wiercioch plays a huge role from the blue line. He dominates on the ice in the 2nd half of the season after returning from a thumb injury.

June 2008 – David Carle, a 2008 Denver dman recruit, is diagnosed w/ a life threatening condition and is forced to quit hockey.

June 21, 2008 – Wiercioch is drafted in the 2nd round of the NHL, 42nd overall, by the Ottawa Senators. He had been ranked 77th among North American skaters in the final central scouting rankings.

July 10, 2008 – W/ an opening on the team due to David Carle’s condition, Wiercioch jumps town for Denver and instantly becomes the Defecticon. W/ his family advisor and the Ottawa Senators whispering in his ear, he decides he needs to play NCAA hockey this year. His contact w/ UW is minimal other that to say he is defecting. Apparently his word means nothing. Six months previous the Defecticon was ok w/ 2008 OR 2009, but that day he was not.

July 11, 2008 – I no longer have a favorite recruit.

October 2008 – The Defecticon suits up for Denver to start his NCAA career.

December 2008 – Attending Canada’s WJC camp, the Defecticon is cut while Wisconsin’s Cody “Gold Medal” Goloubef is the only NCAA player to make the team.

February 13, 2009 – The grease from the Defecticon’s hair starts a fire at the World Arena in Colorado Springs. One of CC’s non-NCAA Championship banners (which are abundant) is used to put out the fire.


At the end of the day, how big of a loss was Patrick Wiercioch for the Wisconsin Badgers? Based on his play during this season, and comments he has made in the past, it is possible he might skip town again this summer (this time DU’s loss) and head to Ottawa (or Binghampton) to start his professional career. At minimum, no way he’ll be back for his junior year. So had he come in next season w/ Justin Schultz, I’m willing to bet that he’d leave after one season.

From a different view, what if Wisconsin had had room to add him into the lineup this season. He would certainly have been a welcome addition, and now maybe I’m jaded in saying this, but I’d take the current core of top draft picks we already have. The Defecticon’s upside is his offense. We already have plenty of offense on the blue line. He’s pretty damn good for a freshman, but he’d be 2nd pairing at best on the PP behind All-American and Hobey Baker Candidate Jamie McBain and Brendan Smith (when healthy). McBain is the best PP QB in the country; Smith arguably has the best one timer in the country.

Better than McDonagh and Goloubef at EV? Maybe offensively, but McDonagh and Goloubef are both better defensive players. I’d take the slightly lesser offensive skills for the second pairing along w/ their enhanced defensive skills over the Defecticon, hands down.

How about Jake Gardiner? Jake has been the most pleasant blue line surprise on the team this season. I thought he’d be more like Smith as a frosh, instead of playing like Goloubef. Jake isn’t the talent the Defecticon is yet, but for a guy who two years ago was playing forward, his potential is sky is the limit.

Really Denver’s gain in the short term is Wisconsin’s gain in the long term. We didn’t have room for the Defecticon, he left and who verballed to take his place next season instead: John Ramage. The Badgers are in need of a top end stay at home defenseman and Ramage fills that role. I still haven’t heard a bad thing about him either.

Obviously the argument exists that the Defecticon did what was in his best interest to further his career. That is all well and good and once he leaves the WCHA, I wish him the best of luck (he isn’t a gopher afterall), but as a Badger fan there is no time for warm and happy feelings when someone turns their back on their verbal commitment and skips town for a rival. This weekend Denver comes to town, and this time the Defecticon will be leaving town again, this time w/ his tail between his legs following a Badgers sweep.

Morrison goes with Harvard

Well that didn't take long at all. I brought to your attention yesterday that Salmon Arm (BCHL) forward Conor Morrison had Wiscsonsin listed on his final four teams. Early this morning D-playa e-mailed me this link confirming that Morrison committed to Harvard yesterday.

First of all, let me say that Morrison is a great player and I would have loved to see him pick Wisconsin. On the other hand, the kid is an '89 and is looking to play college hockey this year. With Wisconsin only having 1 senior forward and 2 projected early departures, there isn't a lot of spots. We already have 4 forwards signed to LOI's and the second leading scorer in the BCHL Mark Zengerle is also possibly in the fold. A 5th forward might have been overkill. I guess the point I'm trying to make is, we would have loved him, but I'm not shocked he went another route, and it was probably in his best interest to do so.