Thursday, September 30, 2010

Line Projections

Gandalf got to give a crack at his line projections last week and I'll give my opinion this week. This is a mix on what I think the lines will actually be and what I think they should be.

Jordy Murray-Craig Smith-Mark Zengerle
I think this gives you a clear cut #1 unit that's going to put up numbers every night. Smith is shifting back to center this season after playing on the wing last year and he's poised to take over the #1 center duties. Murray is a guy you love to have on your line because he'll do anything to get you the puck. Zengerle is a play maker and needs to be an immediate contributor if the Badgers are going to go anywhere.

Jason Clark-Podge Turnbull-Tyler Barnes
Some may think I'm being a bit aggressive with three freshmen in my top 6 forwards but in my opinion talent plays, and these guys need to play. Barnes has spent the past two years in the USHL and will be an immediate contributor at this level. Clark is huge, left handed and can play. Podge is projected to move to center for the first time in his Badger career. I think he can handle it but if the experiment doesn't work out, Zengerle can be moved back to center.

Michael Mersch-Sean Dolan-Derek Lee
Dolan is the captain and the consummate veteran centerman. Our third line needs to be effective and Dolan should be the stable center this line needs. Mersh when I've scouted him seems to be a bit of a wild bull at times. Derek Lee just needs an opportunity to play every night. He can be a 20 point player easily this season.

Patrick Johnson-Jefferson Dahl-Ryan Little/Sean Little
I'm hoping that this line is going to be an effort line for us. Maybe PJ doesn't have the scoring ability that we thought after his freshman year but he can work his tail off on this line to give us a spark. Jefferson is one of the smartest hockey players I've ever watched and can handle the responsibility defensively. Still not sure if Ryan Little is a full time forward or not, but one of the two Littles needs to be on this line to bring a physical presence that can spark the entire team.

Gavin Hartzog-Keegan Meuer-Sean Little
We certainly don't have the depth that we had last year. These guys might get opportunites but they are going to need to be ready in case of injuries at all times. All are unproven at this point.

Jake Gardiner-John Ramage
We need a full time top pairing and I couldn't think of two players better suited for that then Ramer and Gards. Gardiner has played big minutes since he was a freshman and it's his turn to be the man. Ramage is rock solid and tough to play against.

Eric Springer-Justin Schultz
I originally had Schultz and Simonelli and Johnson and Springer paired up but decided to match a left hander and a right hander on each pair. Schultz, who ran our PP as a freshman obviously has the skills to excel at this level. Springer will be given an opportunity to prove that he can be an every night player.

Craig Johnson-Frankie Simonelli
Johnson has been a steady player when given an opportunity and the walk on will be given a shot this season to help mentor young Simonelli from the NTDP. I think Frankie will be a regular in the lineup and this can be a pairing that I wouldn't be afraid of playing against other teams best players.

Chase Drake-Joe Fuast
I fully expect both Drake and Fuast to get chances early in the season to prove that they are worthy of cracking the Wisconsin lineup. Both have talent but it's a chore to crack this unit.

Scott Gudmandson-Brett Bennett
In my opinion we have goaltender 1A and 1B. I fully understand that Gudmandson took the reigns at the end of last season and was the goalie in the nets during the Frozen Four. One thing that the public doesn't understand is how much Brett Bennett's shoulder injury affected his play in the second half of the season. Rumors are that he had off season surgery to clean up the shoulder so he should be full go. I see a strict goalie rotation the first half until one of the two takes the job in the second half. DO NOT write off Brett Bennett.
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Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife

Thanks @Djtuttle for the tip.

lol I am literally laughing while writing this blog. Apparently, on Tuesday afternoon, some local police horses got spooked by a train outside of the Kohl Center and went on a rampage damaging three cars.

One of those cars was a Dodge Charger that belongs to our new men's assistant coach Gary Shuckuk. Lol according to the report the horse kicked the first car, jumped over it, and hit the Charger.

"I was more worried about the horses," Shuchuk said. "But I was told by others that my insurance guy was going to love this story."

Oh Shuey, I'm sure he'll get a nice kick out of it.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TV Schedule Released just released the TV schedule for the upcoming Wisconsin hockey season. The Badgers are scheduled to be on live television 20 times this season. 18 games will not be broadcast live.

FSN will carry 10 games, The Big10 Network will carry two games against Minnesota, Charter Extra will pick up two road games at St. Cloud, WISC-TV and TVW 14 in Madison will air three games each.

According to the release, Paul Braun will be back again this season doing the play-by-play and will be helped out again by former Badger National champion Rob Andringa doing color commentary. Robb Vogel (who is now on twitter by the way) will call play by play on the tape delayed broadcasts and will be Ron Vincent and Theran Welsh will share the color duties.

In addition to the live broadcasts, 13 games will be streamed on the internet at either or, both will charge a small fee.

2010-2011 Wisconsin TV Schedule

10/15-vs Alabama-Huntsville 7:00 FSN/Wisconsin Channel
10/22-@ Denver 8:30 FSN
10/30-vs Michigan Tech 7:00 WISC/Wisconsin Channel
11/05-@ Minnesota 7:00 FSN
11/06-@ Minnesota 7:00 Big10 Network (HD)
11/12-vs North Dakota 7:00 FSN/Wisconsin Channel
11/13-vs North Dakota 7:00 TVW/Wisconsin Channel
11/19-vs Minnesota-Duluth 7:00 FSN/Wisconsin Channel
11/20-vs Minnesota-Duluth 7:00 WISC/Wisconsin Channel
12/10-vs Bemidji State 7:00 TVW/WPT or Wisconsin Channel
12/11-vs Bemidji State 7:00 FSN/WPT or Wisconsin Channel
12/30-vs UMass 7:00 FSN/WPT or Wisconsin Channel
12/31-vs UMass 7:00 FSN/WPT or Wisconsin Channel
1/22-vs Minnesota State 7:00 WISC/WPT or Wisconsin Channel
2/18-vs Minnesota 7:00 Big Ten Network (HD)
2/19-vs Minnesota 7:00 FSN
2/25-@ St. Cloud 7:00 Charter Extra
2/26-@ St. Cloud 7:00 Charter Extra
3/04-Colorado College 7:00 TVW/WPT or Wisconsin Channel
3/05-Colorado College 7:00 FSN/WPT or Wisconsin Channel
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WCHA Media, Coaches Polls Released

You have to love technology. The WCHA Coaches and Media pre-season ballots were scheduled to be released on Wednesday. Both polls were released mere minutes after mid-night. When you're craving college hockey news, you have to love stuff like this.

Little bit about the polls, for the coaches ballot, each head coach sends in a ranking of teams 1-11 not voting on their own squad. They also pick a Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year (can come from their own team). The media do the same. This season there were 29 media members that voted (come on Ciskie, next year let me vote and make it to 30 even voters, I promise I can make a better ROY pick than Radoslav Illo or Rob Gunderson).

The heavy WCHA favorite this season is North Dakota (with good reason). They were picked by both the media and the coaches to win the league. They lose practically nothing, add a solid recruiting class, and get Chay Genoway back for a fifth season of eligibility. I too had UND at #1, you can find my ballot here. The Media voted Wisconsin to finish 5th in the league and the coaches have the Badgers finishing 7th.

The clear cut rookie of the year was Jaden Schwartz from Colorado College. Again both the coaches and media agreed on Schwartz as the favorite. I also had Jaden as my winner. Badger forward Tyler Barnes (Waterloo, USHL) received one vote in both the coaches and media polls.

The biggest discrepency seems to be on the pre-season Player of the Year. More than a third of the media members who voted picked North Dakota defenseman Chay Genoway to win the award more than doubling runner up Garrett Roe from St. Cloud. The coaches winner was Jack Connolly from UMD, who finished fourth in the media voting, and second on his own team behind talented forward Justin Fontaine. Genoway was the runner up in the coaches voting.

LINK to the 40th annual Grand Forks Herald Preseason Coaches Poll
LINK to the 94X WCHA Preseason Media Poll
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Goloubef in Action

Cody Goloubef, or "Goldbeef" as many of my friends and I like to call him after an amusing misreading of his jersey a few years back, suited up for the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight in an exhibition game against the recently Robbie Earl-less Minnesota Wild (Earl was cut Monday - thanks to Chuck for the heads-up). To summarize the game in a few words, the Jackets came from a 2-0 hole to win in a shootout 3-2, and I enjoyed the view from one of Nationwide Arena's gorgeous suites - working for a company with connections is awesome.

Of particular interest to Badger fans, however, is Goldbeef's performance. He took a bad high-sticking minor in the first period, but the Jackets' penalty kill played well all night and bailed him out in that instance. He did make a few great plays at the blue line, however, keeping the puck in on two straight clearing attempts and leading to a great scoring chance that the forwards couldn't convert.

Cody's second period was uneventful. However, he was caught out of position early in the third and gave up a breakaway that would have been a Wild goal if not for the iron. The left post proved to be Goldbeef's best friend, rejecting the shot that had beaten goalie David LeNeveu and maintaining a 2-1 Wild advantage at the time. He didn't play much in the last 10 minutes of regulation, and I didn't see him on the ice at all during the overtime period, which was not surprising to me considering that the team had dressed eight defensemen on the night.

A performance like that tonight confirms what I've been thinking all along: that Goloubef will start the season with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL, and that he may be called up if he shows fast improvement and if the Jackets are hit hard by injuries. He seemed to be struggling somewhat with the speed of the NHL game, which is to be expected. Here's hoping he's up in Columbus sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Roster cuts to come tomorrow, we may know more about his status at that time.

Badgers on TV!

It's getting pretty close to the first puck drop of the season, so some of you might be wondering if/when the Badgers will be on TV.

So far, mum's been the word on, but I've been told that the TV schedule will be announced soon (tomorrow?). Keep your eyes peeled...

Former Badger Recruit Chooses North Dakota

As a 14 year old, Jordan Schmaltz and his parents approached the Wisconsin coaching staff. As one of the top 1993 born players in the country, the UW staff made Schmaltz an offer and he accepted, all before he had even stepped foot on a high school campus.

Less than two years later Schmaltz was calling Mike Eaves to let him know that he was backing out of his verbal commitment and was opening up his recruitment.

It was announced today that Schmaltz has committed to his second school only mere months into his junior year of high school. For those who have followed Schmaltlz, you won't be surprised that he has chosen North Dakota, the same school where his father and uncles both played college football.

Like I mentioned when I wrote the article about Schmaltz decommitting, I guess the biggest disappointment in the situation is that he and his family approached the Wisconsin staff about playing there, not the other way around. And they did this all before he was even in high school. I think the lesson to be learned here, one that I've preached over, and over again to young players, is to take your time before committing to a school. There is absolutely no need to make a commitment when your 15, or 14 or whatever.

Additionally, if you're choosing a school based on the coaches that are in place, especially when you're committing at least 4 years in advance of you actually attending the school, you're choosing the school for the wrong reasons. There are head coaching changes all the time and even more assistant coaching changes.

Best of luck to Jordan at North Dakota, except when you play Wisconsin
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Wisconsin Recruiting: Updated Stat Sheets

Just wanted to let you know that I have updated the recruiting stat sheets for the season. Like last season, I plan to update the statistics for committed recruits only, but will still maintain the potential recruits list.

As shocking as this sounds, Mike Eaves does not regularly e-mail to tell me who he is recruiting. So the potential recruit list is a bit of a hodge podge between my personal opinion, tips from readers, coaches, and parents. If your son is being recruited by Wisconsin or if you feel that I'm missing a player, feel free to e-mail me. Don't feel bad if your a parent and you feel I've overlooked your kid. Most likely I just haven't seen the kid play yet It's not a personal slight.

Wisconsin Committed Recruits

Wisconsin Potential Recruits
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WEHL 2010 Central Challenge Midget Tournament


The Wisconsin Elite Hockey League (WEHL) is pleased to announce this fall’s Central Challenge Midget Tournament, to be held October 29-31, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This year’s invitation-only tournament for the top 18U and 16U teams in the central states will be held under one roof at the beautiful 3-sheet Cornerstone Community Ice Center, home of the NCAA DIII Saint Norbert College Green Knights (2008 NCAA National Champions).

In addition to great competition, there will be tremendous exposure opportunity for players looking to move on to the next levels of hockey after high school. Coaches and scouts from all Central States Hockey League (Jr. A Tier 3) and Minnesota Junior Hockey League (Jr. A Tier 3) teams have been invited to attend, along with central states area USHL and NAHL personnel. We also anticipate attendance by representatives of some of the area NCAA D3 collegiate programs (MCHA, NCHA, and MIAC).

  • Twelve teams at each level. All teams will play four games (two 25-minute stop time halves), with those advancing to the Semi-Finals and Finals playing five and six games.
  • Team trophies to first and second place teams.
  • Presentations by University of Wisconsin Badgers and NAHL Janesville Jets about hockey opportunities after high school and the paths to attain them.
  • Opportunity to see high level NCAA D3 hockey Friday 10/29 @ 7:00pm and Saturday 10/30 @ 4:00pm – St. Norbert College versus University of Wisconsin-Stout.
  • No admission or gate fees for tournament games.
  • Tournament-sanctioned hotels with economical discounted rates.
  • USA Hockey sanctioned tournament.

We look forward to what promises to be an extremely competitive tournament! Please direct any inquiries to Sam Storch (Tournament Director) or Rene Cranston (WEHL Commissioner).

Sam Storch 262-442-6608

Rene Cranston 414-540-3307

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wisconsin Recruiting: Jake McCabe out 8-12 Weeks

2011 Wisconsin recruit Jake McCabe is starting the season on the shelf. After noticing McCabe sat out the USHL Fall Classic over the weekend, I had assumed he had some sort of injury. I checked in with the Team USA defenseman and got the news I was hoping I wouldn't hear.

McCabe confirmed that he is injured and will be out 8-12 weeks. McCabe said he has a stress fracture in his L-5 vertebra which is in the lower back. The doctors told him that they suspect he injured it lifting weights over the summer. The injury showed up on a bone scan done shortly after returning to Ann Arbor this fall.

McCabe said that he is 2 and a half weeks into recovery and is hoping for a mid-November return. He's in a big back brace that he's forced to wear 24 hours a day that is supposed to speed up the recovery time. He is able to do biking exercises at this time but that's about it.

A teammate of McCabe's at the NTDP, Connor Murphy had a similar injury last season. Unfortunately for Murphy the injury wasn't diagnosed until late in the season and he was limited to 9 games.

I think I speak for everyone in wishing Jake a speedy recovery and hopefully he'll be back on the ice for the bulk of Team USA's season.
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Wisconsin Opens Season #13 In USA Today Poll

The first USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll was released this afternoon and your University of Wisconsin Badgers check in at #13 to start the season. In my opinion it's just about perfect for where I thought we should be. Five other WCHA teams were also ranked to start the season. North Dakota checks in at #2, St. Cloud at #6, Minnesota-Duluth at #9, Denver at #11, and Minnesota at #15. My sleeper team, Nebraska-Omaha was in the receiving votes category.

Red/White Scrimage This Saturday 4:00 PM

Official Release

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin men's hockey officially opens practice for the 2010-11 season on Saturday, Oct. 2, and the team is welcoming fans to come watch.

Come see UW's 10 freshmen, and the returning Badgers from a team that reached the 2010 NCAA Championship Game, in their its first public appearance of the season. UW will play a free Red-White scrimmage beginning at 4 p.m., at the Kohl Center. The scrimmage precedes the Badger women's hockey team's contest against Rensselaer. The women's game against the Engineers begins at 7 p.m., and fans can stick around to catch free Badger women's hockey action.

Following the men's scrimmage, beginning at approximately 6:20 p.m., members of UW's men's team will be available for autographs in the Kohl Center concourse.

Admission is free for both the men's scrimmage and the women's game.

Note: The televisions in the Kohl Center concourse will show the Badger men's football game against Michigan State.
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Recruiting: USHL Fall Classic Stats

This past weekend the Sioux City Musketeers hosted the USHL Fall Classic (formerly known as the Buc Bowl), a pre-season event that attracts hundreds of scouts from the NCAA and NHL.

There were seven committed Badger recruits participating as well as numerous uncommitted prospects that we've got on our radar.

Brendan Woods-Muskegon (2011 recruit)
Finished the weekend with one assist in three games but the positive here is that he came out of the tournamanent healthy. Last year he broke his leg during the fall classic and misssed over half of the USHL season. Woods was a first round pick in the expansion draft by Muskegon and should be in line for a big year.

Cody Strang-Youngstown (2011 recruit)
Strang (who I believe may have been named a captain for the Phantoms) had a goal in the opener of the fall classic and picked up an assist on the second night. Strang really came on at the end of last year and Youngstown plans to lean on him for some scoring punch this year.

Matt Paape-Sioux City (2011 recruit)
The Appleton native picked up a pair of helpers over the weekend for the Musketeers. Paape started off strong last year and many thought he might be brought in as an 18 year old freshman. With a year under his belt in the USHL, he should be able to hold pace a bit better this season.

Corbin McGuire-Fargo (2012 recruit)
Corbin got his first introduction to the USHL this past weekend at the Fall Classic picking up an assist over two games. McGuire should be fun to follow this season because he's only a junior in high school and I'm interested to see what kind of an adjustment he will make to the pace of the USHL from prep school. In late May I talked to Corbin and he felt that moving to the USHL this season was best for his hockey development, I feel he made the correct choice.

Troy Hesketh-Fargo (2011 recruit)
The former Minnetonka high school defenseman didn't put up any points in his first two USHL games but did end the weekend +1. Hesketh is expected to play big time minutes for the Force this season.

Jake McCabe-USA NTDP U18 (2011 recruit)
McCabe has yet to play in an exhibition game for Team USA so far this season which would lead me to believe he's got some sort of injury. Since there has been no reports on it yet, I'm going to assume it's something minor and they are just holding him out of the pre-season contests. Hopefully we can see him soon.

Tyler Lapic-Chicago (2011 recruit)
Lapic has taken the tour of the USHL now that's for sure. He was recently traded from Des Moines to Chicago. Last season he was traded from Omaha to Des Moines. The New Prague native had 1 assist over the weekend. I've seen Lapic play and he's got the skill set to put points on the board so hopefully he can get into a rythm this season and find some consistency with Chicago.
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Hockey Facility Looks Promising

After going away for the weekend I came home to find pleasant news in my in-box.

Multiple reports came out Friday night that the the proposed new UW Hockey Facility has been put back on track.

This past March the facility was put on hold when Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez cited a lack of progress in gift funds. In the article I linked from March, Alvarez said they were $2 million dollars short of their goal or $8 million in gift funds.

According to Wisconsin State Journal writer Andy Baggot, "UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said Friday that a "very good'' surge of gift funds has put it back on track."

The news is encouraging for Wisconsin hockey fans. The facility which will be used as a practice and game facility for the women's hockey program and a practice facility for the men should provide a huge boost in recruiting which is a huge step in assuring that both the men and women's programs at Wisconsin remain amongst the NCAA's elite.

With men's and women's basketball as well as men's and women's hockey teams all being full time tenants of the Kohl Center, practice time at the facility can be tricky. Currently, the men's program practices the majority of the time at the Bob Johnson hockey facility which is 3 miles away from campus. Having a full time on campus practice facility adjacent to the Kohl Center is LONG overdue.

Additionally, a game facility for the women will provide them a home that they can call their own. I'm not positive but as far as I know, the University of Minnesota is the only women's program in the country to have a women's only hockey game facility. The projected facility should provide the Wisconsin women with a home second to none in the country.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus notes, "UW officials hope to obtain construction approval next month from the Board of Regents and the State Building Commission."

If approved, construction on the 2,400-seat rink will begin in the upcoming spring of 2011 with the project scheduled to be ready for the 2012 hockey season.
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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Brendan Smith Wears the Winged Wheel

A few days after other Badgers played their first NHL preseason games, Brendan Smith made his unofficial debut as a Red Wing last night, which resulted in a 3-2 preseason victory for Detroit over the Chicago Blackhawks. By most accounts, Smith had a solid if unspectacular game, with only one turnover and four hits in 19:47 of ice time, almost as much as perennial ice-time leader Nicklas Lidstrom and good for third-most in the game for Detroit. Smith was paired with veteran AHL defenseman Doug Janik. Wings coach Mike Babcock, in an interview seen here, said that he thought Smith was "a little bit nervous, but that's life." Photos from the game are here, and skip ahead to picture 17 to see Smith. Also worth mentioning, he's wearing number 2 in Detroit, as the #7 he wore in Madison has been retired for Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay.

Other former Badgers Jack Skille and Jake Dowell did not play for Chicago.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Hi, Everybody!

Good day to you all out there. Or as Rex Ryan might say, "HOW THE &#$% YOU DOIN', BOYS?!" As Chuck indicated earlier, I'm Tex. The gang has graciously invited me to give them a hand with the blog this year, and I'm stoked to join the team. As a Wisconsin student and devoted Badger fan, I attended all but two home games over my past five years in Madison - and the weekend of those two I spent in Vancouver supporting our Badger ladies in the Olympics, as chronicled in a brief blogging escapade here and on NBC 15's website. Four of those years were spent in 117 on the tunnel, jawing back and forth with opposing players and making it impossible for T.J. Oshie to be heard during intermission interviews. I hope some of you will recognize my pride and joy, who has spent his time perched on my head for half a decade:

Anyhow, the timing of my joining the guys on this corner of the blogosphere comes at an interesting time for me, as I just graduated from our beloved University of Wisconsin in August and accepted a job. The good news is this means I actually have free time and money, which is fantastic! Of course, there's bad news, which is that the job is in Columbus, Ohio, meaning I won't be able to attend every game as I'm used to. I'm already suffering through the pain of watching Badger football games on TV while surrounded by Buckeye fans; knowing that there will be hockey games at the Kohl Center while I'm sitting 500 miles away will be even more challenging.

Since I might not be able to assist the guys with weekly game analysis like I could have if I remained in Madison, I will find ways to contribute in other areas. I'll be making it back for at least three series over the course of the season (including the first home series against UAH), so I won't be completely out of the loop. In the meantime, I'll do my best to keep everyone up with news on former Badgers in the NHL and elsewhere, and since I'm in an NHL city I'll be able to see a number of them firsthand when they visit the Blue Jackets. Plus, I've always been a numbers guy, so I'm planning on doing some statistical analysis as well.

There is a little bit more to me than just Badgers and hockey fanaticism. I'm a huge Packers fan, and as Chuck mentioned, I write for the Acme Packing Company blog as well. And last spring after attending multiple Olympic curling matches in Vancouver, I picked up the sport a little bit and I'll be joining the Columbus club for the upcoming winter. I'm a bit of an Xbox junkie too, especially with the Madden, NCAA Football, NHL, and Call of Duty franchises.

With that out of the way, I want to say another big thanks to the guys for bringing me on board. Here's to a great season, Badger fans. See you at the Kohl Center on October 15th, and ON WISCONSIN!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stepan, McDonagh, Geoffrion Make Debuts

Thursday night marked a special moment in the careers of three former Badgers. New York Rangers prospects Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh and Nashville Predators prospect Blake Geoffrion all made their NHL exhibition debuts.

Stepan, McDonagh and the blue shirts hosted the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden (not a bad place to see your first NHL action eh). From all indications, Stepan looked all world.

The Hastings native opened up the game centering a line featuring perennial NHL All-Star Marian Gaborik and Alexander Frolov. The line didn't waste much time getting on the board when Stepan breaking in off the side boards found Frolov who one touched a pass to Gaborik who buried it behind future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. Stepan finished the night with one assist, 4 shots on goal and was minus 1 in 18 minutes of action.

McDonagh was a bit more under the radar Thursday night but he played a solid 19 minutes finishing plus one. He also had one monster hit on Mattias Tedenby.

Geoffrions debut with Nashville was in a bit more of a limited role. With a glut of centers on Nashville this season Geoffrion was forced to the wing where he played on the left side of the fourth line. (edit: I've seen contradictory reports on if Blake played LW or C) Geoffrion played just over 14 minutes and finished the night -1. Blake also spent 4:28 on the PK Thursday night which is encouraging.
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Few Site Tweaks

With a new season only a few weeks away I wanted to point out that there are a few minor site tweaks for the upcoming season.

First of all, we have a new writer. Shockingly, most of us have real lives and jobs and school and such so there isn't always time to write for this site. We decided to add a new contributor and his name is Tex Western. He will be contributing from time to time whenever his schedule allows. If you read the comments you're probably already familiar with him because he shares his thoughts in there quite a bit during the season. He went to school at UW and is a very passionate Badger fan. He also is a writer for the Acme Packing Company (Packers Blog).

I've also revamped the links on the side bar of this site. I've added quite a few WCHA fan blogs and added a link to all the WCHA beat writer blogs. That was long over-due. Additionally, down the bottom of the left side there is a section where you can click on a label to view all articles tagged with that label. I spent hours revamping the labels that we have. It's still not perfect but it should be a lot easier for you (and us) to find archived articles.

If there is anything else that you would like to see, feel free to leave a comment.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Projecting the Lines: September 2010 Edition

Wow it has been a busy few months for me, I apologize for my lack of blogging and updates. I have another busy month to go w/ work, but I wrote this up a month ago and finally have time today to get back around to posting it.

A few months back, Chuck projected some lines and I wanted to take a fresh look as the season approaches and the roster is finalized (again I wrote this five weeks ago).

1st Line: LW Jordy Murray – C Craig Smith – RW Derek Lee

At forward, the team doesn’t have a ton of experience, but I think Eaves would be well suited to have one line of veteran players, who should be able to light the lamp and play some solid D. Jordy Murray returns as the top returning goal scorer, while Craig Smith as the top returning scorer. I don’t think there would be much debate that they are the two most talented returning forwards on the team. Smith was a center w/ Waterloo in the USHL, and he’ll need to step up into that role on the top line w/ the departure of Stepan to the pros. Derek Lee was the causality of a loaded team last season. He didn’t have the body or game to be a grinder, he is a playmaker, and there wasn’t room on the top lines for him last season. He needs to assert himself this season, and showcase the skills he used to be one of the top players in the BCHL a few years back.

2nd Line: LW Jason Clark – C Mark Zengerle – RW Josh Turnbull

Past the first line, it is a crap shoot. There are so many freshman, they are going to have to play major roles on the team. Mark Zengerle joins the Badgers as a 21 year old freshman, and I’m hoping he provides some Tyler Bozak (former DU standout) type excitement as an older skillful player. Leading the BCHL in scoring two years in a row leads to high expectations. Josh Turnbull comes off a roller coaster season, which finished well and hopefully boosts his confidence as well as Coach Eaves’. Turnbull has disappointed often during his career, but he get one more crack to make a difference, and the team needs him this season. Jason Clark is a big, talented power forward. The last two kids to come from Shattuck St Mary’s stepped in and contributed right away (Derek Stepan & Murray), so I expect some of the same from Clark, but could see several other people filtering through this spot.

3rd Line: LW Patrick Johnson – C Sean Dolan – RW Tyler Barnes

Sean Dolan is the only returning player w/ regular time spent at the face off dot. In addition he has been named team Captain, so he could project as the 2nd line center. One thing is for sure he is a rock solid defender, and will likely be called upon for his defense throughout the season. The line “designation” often doesn’t mean much to Coach Eaves, and Dolan’s line will see a lot of ice time regardless. Which Patrick Johnson will take the ice this season? if the freshman version of Ratty makes a resurgence, he could find a spot in a more offensive situation, but again like Dolan is a solid defender. Tyler Barnes comes off having a similar USHL season to Craig Smith at this time last year, and will be another freshman counted on to be productive for the team. That production might not come as goals, but Barnes will counted on as a regular this season, and is another solid defender.

4th Line: LW Michael Mersch – C Jefferson Dahl – RW Ryan Little

A while back, Baggot mentioned Eaves might experiment w/ playing Ryan Little as a grinder at forward, so I’ve put him into that slot on the 4th line. Wouldn’t be the worst experiment, the team is deeper on the blue line than at forward, and having another experienced player on the ice won’t hurt any where you can fit them. Jefferson Dahl should be able to do a lot of things for the Badgers as a freshman. He led the expansion Youngstown Phantoms in scoring last season, but was also a regular on their PK. He isn’t the biggest guy, but he is very hockey smart. Michael Mersch will be the youngest Badger on the team next season, not turning 18 until the second home series. His numbers last season w/ the US NTDP weren’t world killing, but Mersch is a talented young man, who could surprise this season, but if nothing else will be a regular in the lineup.

Lineup Crashers: Keegan Meuer, Sean Little & Gavin Hartzog

This group of young men could be regulars in street clothes or regulars in the lineup all season. W/ a young team, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eaves switch things around a lot the first half to try to find the right combination of players, or when someone isn’t giving 100%. Keegan Meuer brings a year of the Eaves’ system to the team, Sean Little brings unending energy and scrappiness to the Badgers, while Gavin Hartzog brings size you can’t teach. Unlike last season, I don’t think there is an obvious drop in talent or role that keeps a player on the bench compared to the rest of the lineup. Spots will be up for grabs and hard work in practice each night will be vital for the younger players. I especially like Sean Little to get some PT this season, but I’m kinda biased after watching him in Green Bay the last two years.

Top Pairing: Jake Gardiner & John Ramage

Some people might like to break up the top three defensemen, but I think the team needs a top notch pairing to skate a ton of minutes each night. Jake Gardiner and John Ramage would make one of the best pairings in the country. Gardiner returns as arguably the most talented player on the team, and w/ Stepan and Ryan McDonagh leaving early, will be one of the team’s leaders this season (has been named alternate captain). Paired w/ Ramage, Gardiner should get a chance to show off more of his offensive talent. Ramage is use to being paired w/ an offensive partner, but unlike Brendan Smith, I don’t see Gardiner leaving Ramage out to dry w/ regularity. Ramage is nothing but a rock as a defender, and happens to have a cannon of a shot to use when the situation allows. Gardiner is no defensive liability though, his year playing w/ McDonagh did wonders for his all around game.

2nd Pairing: Justin Schultz & Eric Springer

The other big name regular returning is Justin Schultz. His role will have to expand from learner to leader this season. Last season Cody Goloubef led the way at EV, now Schultz will have to take up that role and grow as a player. On the PP, Schultz and Gardiner should make a solid 1st unit combination. I put Eric Springer w/ Schultz, as I hope Springer is ready and able to play a regular shift on the blue line this season. The blue line is still pretty deep by WCHA standards, and two years in the system, even w/ a new assistant coach, should be to his advantage. Frankie Simonelli or Joe Faust will be pushing for playing time though.

3rd Pairing: Craig Johnson & Frankie Simonelli/Joe Faust/Chase Drake

This is where spreading out the top three blue liners wouldn’t make sense, if I didn’t think Craig Johnson was capable of leading this pairing every night. He’s been a solid stay at home defender his entire time at Wisconsin, and as a senior can show one of the freshman the ropes. I listed all three freshman opposite Johnson, since I think the blue line will have some shuffling early on. Simonelli was a regular w/ the US NTDP and should be a regular in this lineup, but I can’t discount Faust either since I’ve never seen him play. Chase Drake did not overwhelm me the two times I saw him play in the USHL, but he was a great high school player for Mosinee, and look forward to his Badger career.

In Goal: Scott Gudmandson

While Gudmandson should start the year as the #1, he’ll have to work hard to keep that spot, and Brett Bennett will see time in the crease no matter what. Bennett should push him all year, as he looks to rebound completely from a shoulder injury that he never really looked the same after despite being cleared to play. No matter what, these two need to play better. The help out front has diminished from last season, not only from the losses on the blue line in McDonagh and Goloubef, but more importantly from the defensive forwards. Ben Street, Blake Geoffrion, Andy Bohmbach, Ben Grotting and Aaron Bendickson were outstanding defenders, and the 2010/11 forward corps will be hard pressed to match what has been lost to graduation. Experience goes a long way though, and having two senior goalies is something no other WCHA team can boast. Gudmandson and Bennett need to keep the Badgers in games to start the season, and give this young team the opportunity to succeed and grow.

Chuck's WCHA Pre-Season Poll

The WCHA coaches and Media are set to release their pre-season polls one week from today so I thought I would give mine a shot in advance of the official polls being released. A few media members have already released their ballots, including one ROY selection that I literally laughed out loud at. But I'll let you figure that one out.

I believe the coaches and media both fill out their pre-season selections the same way. Ranking the teams 1-12, and picking a pre-season Player of the Year and pre-season Rookie of the year. I'll do the same.

1.) North Dakota
2.) St. Cloud State
3.) Minnesota-Duluth
4.) Nebraska-Omaha
5.) Minnesota
6. ) Wisconsin
7. ) Denver
8. ) Bemidji
9. ) Colorado College
10.) Alaska Anchorage
11.) Minnesota State
12. ) Michigan Tech

Player of the year: Jacob Cepis-Minnesota
I'm assuming most of you are going to look at this as a shocking selection. All you need to do is look at the facts to see why this is a great possibility. Cepis was hands down Minnesota's best player last season in the second half (missed the first half -- transfer rules) . He averaged almost a point per game in the second half playing on a garbage team with little help. I expect Minnesota to be better this season and the infusion of some talented freshman forwards should help.

Rookie of the year: Jaden Schwartz-Colorado College

Sorry, had to go chalk on this one. Schwartz is a beast and is going to get plenty of opportunities to show his abilities for CC. He's the best player coming into the league this year. People can certainly make cases for Zengerle and Barnes from UW, Bjugstad and Haula from Minnesota, Jason Zucker or Beau Bennett from DU, but this is Schwart's award to lose.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Badgers In The Pros: Turris Starts Off Right

The 2009-2010 hockey season didn't go exactly how Kyle Turris wanted it to. While his former Badger teammates were playing for an NCAA championship, the young Canadian who would have been a junior at UW last year spent the entire season in the American Hockey League with the San Antonio Rampage instead of with his NHL club, the Phoenix Coyotes.

The talented young forward was dead set on making his way back to the NHL this season. Not only was Turris determined to make it back to the show, he needs to make an impression during training camp and during the exhibition season that he's ready to contribute offensively on a scoring line.

Turris wasted little time making an impression in his first pre-season game of the 2010 hockey season. On a power play in the second period Turris won a faceoff against Ducks center Ryan Carter, and scored on a wicked wrister that was assisted by David Schlemko. Turris finished the night with the goal, a +1 rating and 3 SOG. He was named the third star in a 4-1 Phoenix win.

With Turris battling Wellwood and Ebbett for playing time this season, he's going to need to continue to put up performances like this all fall.
Turris wasn't the only former Badger in action on the opener of the NHL exhibition season. Calgary's Rene Bourque had a big night notching a goal and an assist for the Flames in 3-1 win over Vancouver.
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Tim Davison Is Your Newest Badger (2 weeks ago)

First of all, I want to apologize this should have been posted two weeks ago. I received multiple e-mail tips from people but I was out of town taking care of important business (aka my fantasy football draft).

I'm sure by now you've heard that Tim Davison from (Green Bay) Notre Dame Academy has committed to the University of Wisconsin for either the 2012 or 2013 season. I'd link the article that Dplaya wrote but I have no idea how to find it on his new site.

Anyways, I've been telling you about Timmy D since early last fall when I scouted him with the Team Wisconsin minor squad. He's smaller in stature at 5'10, 163 pounds but what he loses in size he makes up for in skating ability and position. He's a good puck mover with offensive capabilities. His biggest weakness at this point is his consistency. He has to come to play every night.

Davison was drafted in the USHL futures draft by the Youngstown Phantoms this past spring and made the team out of camp. He turned down the opportunity to play in the USHL this year to return to Notre Dame Academy for his junior season. He's also playing with Team Wisconsin majors. He's expected to play 2011-12 in the USHL and possibly another year depending on departures and progression.

By the way, the picture above is Davison on the right and potential recruit Zach Stepan on the left after they won Gold this summer with the USA U-17 squad.
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