Friday, December 31, 2010

UMD's Olsen fails out of school, signs pro contract

When Dylan Olsen returns from the World Junior Championships where he is currently playing for Team Canada, he won't return to his college program at the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he has played for the past year and a half. Instead the first round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks will report to Rockford of the American Hockey League.

Olsen reportedly has signed a 3 year entry level deal with the Blackhawks according to Duluth News Tribune writer Kevin Pates.

Rumors started to swirl late last night about this story and Grand Forks Herald writer Brad Elliott Schlossman who was in Duluth last night for the opening of Amsoil arena between UMD and North Dakota notes that it looks like Olsen's signing has to do with an academic situation.

I had heard rumors over the summer that Olsen had struggled during his first year at Duluth academically so this news isn't entirely surprising.

The loss of Olsen will certainly be a hit for a Bulldog squad who is having an outstanding season ranked in the top 5 in both major national polls.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Turnbull, Simonelli step up, Badgers handle UMass

For some all it takes is one breakout game to propel a player to the next level. Tonight may have been that night for freshman defenseman Frankie Simonelli.

The 18 year old out of Bensenville, Illinois had his most productive game as a Badger recording a goal and two assists in a 5-1 Wisconsin victory. The Badgers have now won four in a row.

Simonelli was thrust into an expanded role, including time on the power play Thursday night with John Ramage off playing with Team USA at the World Junior Championship.

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves sees the progression in his young defenseman. "(Simonelli) got a little time on the power play tonight. When you’re on the power play and you have a little production that gives you confidence. He’s got some swagger and confidence with the puck right now and that’s a great thing to have. ”

Another Badgers starting to come into his own is Podge Turnbull. The senior center has found a home between freshmen wingers Michael Mersch and Tyler Barnes and buried his sixth and seventh goals of the season in the victory.

Turnbull while very talented, has been inconsistent over his four year career in Madison. After the game he noted that game is starting to open up for him. "Coach Eaves and Coach Butters pulled me aside and said ‘We need you.’ I knew that but it was one of those things that I had to completely understand and that last sit that I had really opened my eyes to game and how I needed to play."

Two other players that have taken criticism for inconsistent play over the past two seasons came to play tonight as well. Patrick Johnson played a hard nosed game throwing his body at anyone who crossed his path. Johnson got the Badgers on the board to start the game only 73 seconds in to the contest when he tipped a Simonelli shot past UMass goalie Jeff Teglia.

Derek Lee, the other player who hasn't always played up to his capabilities showed flashes of why the coaching staff was so enamored with him when he was recruited out of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League. Lee had an assist on the first goal of the game and showed burst and confidence with the puck that he's lacked since becoming a Badger.

Senior goalie Scott Gudmandson played another strong game in goal for Wisconsin. While only being seriously tested a hand full of times, Gudmandson looked confident and quick all night. His only blemish came on a great effort from UMass forward T.J. Syner was able to sneak between Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz and he buried it on the stick side for Massachusetts only goal.

Badger freshman forward Sean Little collected his first collegiate point Thursday night when he assisted on a goal scored by his older brother Ryan. Coming out of the corner, Sean Little left a drop pass for defenseman Justin Schultz who was coming down the side boards. Schultz found Ryan Little out front with a beautiful pass and the elder little was able to bury the puck for his fourth goal of the season.

Wisconsin is back in action Friday night against UMass with a seven o'clock game time. The game once again will be broadcast live on FSN WI with the replay on the Wisconsin Channel.

BOX SCORE

First Period
1:16-Wisconsin-Patrick Johnson (Frankie Simonelli, Derek Lee)
16:28-Wisconsin-Podge Turnbull (Tyler Barnes, Michael Mersch)

Second Period
2:40-Wisconsin-Ryan Little (Justin Schultz, Sean Little)
6:59-UMass-T.J. Syner (Daniel Hobbs)
9:53-Wisconsin-Simonelli (Craig Johnson, Barnes)
14:05-Wisconsin-Turnbull (Eric Springer, Simonelli)

Third Period
No Scoring

Saves
Wisconsin (Gudmandson)-19 shots, 18 saves
UMass (Teglia)-20 shots, 15 saves
UMass (Dainton)-14 shots, 14 saves

Photo courtesy of Melody Hasse

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

UMass Week (Thursday/Friday Special Editon)

NOTE: This weekends series versus the University of Massachusetts is being played on Thursday (12/30) and Friday (12/31).

It's been a long two weeks for Badger fans who are chomping at the bit to see the cardinal and white in action. In fact, the Badger hockey had 18 days off in between the Saturday night game against Bemidji on the 11th and Thursdays game against UMass.

It should be interesting to see how the Badgers respond after such an extended break. In a weird scheduling quirk, UMass has only played two games in the past month. They played one game on December 4th, a 5-2 victory over UMass-Lowell, and one game on December 12th, a 4-1 loss at Maine. So both teams are coming off extended breaks.

The Badgers last series against Bemidji State should be looked upon as a stepping stone for the second half of the season. The team didn't play outstanding that weekend but played well enough to take four WCHA points against a scrappy team.

Wisconsin will be without the services of sophomore defenseman John Ramage who is captaining the United States U20 team at the World Junior Championships. In his place, freshman defenseman Joe Faust who has played in 8 games this season jumps back in to the lineup. He will be paired with Craig Johnson. According to Andy Baggot, the pairings of Justin Schultz/Jake Gardiner, and Frankie Simonelli/Eric Springer will remain intact.

Up front there are no surprises since the last time you've seen them play. Podge Turnbull is still centering the unit between Michael Mersch and Tyler Barnes. Derek Lee will be a healthy scratch once again. I like Lee but he's not playing up to his capabilities and his game doesn't allow him to play on a lower line. He's either on a scoring line or a scratch. Unfortunately right now he doesn't fit in the lineup.

Scott Gudmandson will be playing in goal on the Thursday night game. I would be SHOCKED if Brett Bennett didn't get the start on Friday night. He hasn't played since November 26th against Michigan, a 4-4 tie.

UMass rolls in to town with a paltry 3-7-3 record and an even worse 0-5-2 record on the road. The Minutemen have played well below expectations all season long however they have been better of late. After starting the season 0-5-3, UMass has gone 4-2-1 over their past 7 contests.

The Minutemen are similar to Wisconsin in that they get a lot of their scoring from the blue line. Wisconsin is first in the country in blue line scoring and UMass is second.

COVERAGE

Both games this week will be televised. Both Thursday night and Friday night's games will be broadcast on FSN WI. As usual, the games will be replayed on the Wisconsin Channel at 10 PM.

POLLS

Wisconsin is ranked #15 in both the USCHO.com poll and the USA Today/USAHockey.com poll.

INJURIES

Wisconsin should be at full strength this weekend.

PREDICTIONS

I'm not going to beat around the bush. Teams like UMASS are teams that we need to handle. A home series against a team who is terrible on the road should equate to wins for the Badgers. Anything less than 3 points would be utterly disappointing.

Thursday: Wisconsin 6, UMass 2; Friday: Wisconsin 4, UMass 2

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Wisconsin Recruiting: McGuire, Zulinick Injured

If you have been regularly checking the recruiting statistics you may have noticed a couple of players haven't been playing. Two big time 93 born forwards, Corbin McGuire (Fargo, USHL) and Morgan Zulinick (Salmon Arm, BCHL), both 2012 commitments have been out with injuries.

I was able to get a hold of Zulinick (pictured) the other day to ask him about the injury. "I separated my shoulder and will be back playing on the 29th (Wednesday) against Vernon." He noted that he feels fine, "It's almost 100%."

McGuire, according to Fargo Force beat writer Ryan S. Clark is out with a concussion. A closer look at the USHL transactions reveals McGuire was placed on the 45 day IR by Fargo on November 26th. That would make a return date set for the weekend of January 14/15.
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Navin on fire

No surprise to anyone is the fact that the most recent Badger commit, Brad Navin, is leading the state of Wisconsin in scoring through Christmas. The 6'2 forward is averaging almost 4 points per game for the 8-1 Waupaca Comets. Navin has 20 goals through the first 9 games of the season. Waupaca was ranked #8 in the latest poll conducted by Wisconsin Prep Hockey. Waupaca's only loss this season came at the hands of fifth ranked, and undefeated Ashwaubenon.
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Rumpel turning heads

At no time in Mike Eaves tenure as head coach has he named a freshman the starting goaltender. Which is why many were shocked when Eaves anointed 2011 recruit Joel Rumpel next years starter, a year before he's even slated to be on campus.

But Rumpel is doing his part to silence the critics. Playing in the BCHL, a league known for it's wide open play and it's video game type offensive statistics, Rumpel has been brilliant between the pipes most of the season but has really picked up his play in the month of December.

Thanks to the help of Penticton Vees play by play man Ryan Pinder, we've found that Rumpel has put together a 1.26 GAA, .959 save percentage over his past 6 starts. Due in large part to Rumpels play in the past month, Penticton is in first place in the Interior Conference.

Wisconsin Committed Recruit Statistics (All updated except the NTDP Stats)

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Friday, December 24, 2010

John Ramage Named Team USA Captain

For the second consecutive season a Wisconsin Badger will be wearing the captain "C" for the United States World Junior Team.

Today, USA Hockey announced that Badger sophomore defenseman John Ramage will captain the United States in the upcoming tournament.

Last year, former Badger and current New York Ranger forward Derek Stepan was named captain of the US squad and led the tournament in scoring en route to a gold medal for the Americans.

Rochester IceHogs/Chicago Blackhawks forward Jeremy Morin and Quebec Remparts forward Ryan Bourque were named alternate captains.

Ramage, Morin, and Bourque were all members of last years gold medal squad. Last year, it took an upset to take home the top prize. According to most media members, this year the United States are looked upon as the favorites.

Team USA opens up pool play on Sunday night vs Finland. Game can be seen on the NHL Network.

Team USA Schedule (Central Time):
Sunday (12/26) vs Finland 7:00 PM HBC Arena-NHL Network
Tuesday (12/28) vs Slovakia 7:00 PM HBC Arena-NHL Network
Thursday (12/30) vs Germany 6:00 PM HBC Arena-NHL Network
Friday (12/31) vs Switzerland 7:00 PM HBC Arena-NHL Network

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Jack Skille on American Chopper TV show

Thursday, December 23, 2010

High School Hockey Showdown Tonight

We don't cover Wisconsin high school hockey very often on this site but we make exceptions for things like the State Tournament and big high school games.

Tonight's match up between Eau Claire Memorial and Wausau West certainly qualifies as a big game. In fact, it's about as big as it gets for a regular season game. #2 ranked Eau Claire Memorial rides into Wausau to take on the #1 ranked West Warriors.

Last season these two teams had three outstanding battles. Memorial got the best of West in a shootout in a tournament at the start of the year (went down as a tie due to WIAA rules). West took the second battle when they won 3-2 on the road in Eau Claire. The Warriors would win the rubber match at the state tournament in overtime, catapulting them into the state championship game.

Wausau West has been #1 all season long and has done nothing to prove the voters wrong. They are 7-0 and averaging over 6 goals per game and giving up just over 2. Legendary coach Pete Susans is sitting on 499 victories and you know his team would love nothing more than to get 500 against the #2 ranked team in the state.

Offensively the Warriors are led by Kyle Lee and Garrett Clemment. The pair have combined for over half of the goals for West this season. Defensively a player to watch is sophomore John Feemster. In goal look for Austin Priebe, a big kid who covers a lot of the net.

Memorial started the season #5 in the state but have worked their way up to #2 with impressive victories over Arrowhead and Superior. They are converting at an impressive 35% on the power play.

Alexander Dahl and Hunter Scott lead the Old Abes up front. Dahl, the younger brother of Badger freshman Jefferson, is fifth in the state in scoring. Sophomore defenseman Michael Kapla is averaging two points per game. In the net senior Saxton Soley is playing at a very high level.

Basically what I'm getting at is if you have some free time tonight, make the trek over to Marathon Park in Wausau to catch a battle between two of the states elite programs. Game time is 7:15, get there early to grab a good seat.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ramage officially named to team USA

USA Hockey this morning announced the names of 22 players who will be representing the United States in the World Junior Championships starting the day after Christmas in Buffalo, NY.

Wisconsin Sophomore defenseman John Ramage has been named to the team for the second consecutive year. It is the ninth consecutive season that the Wisconsin Badgers have had a representative on Team USA.

Last season as a member of the USA WJC, Ramage and his American teammates were able to capture the gold on Canadian soil.

Looking for it's first repeat gold medal in this country's history, the United States will be led by eight returning players. No doubt most importantly, goaltender Jack Campbell who has been nothing short of brilliant in international competitions in his career will be looked upon as the back bone for the team.

Ramage, the only returning defenseman is also going to be counted upon for significant minutes for the red, white, and blue. A surprise selection last season, it was Ramage who assisted on the game winning goal in overtime vs Canada in one of, if not the best hockey game that I've ever witnessed.

Offensively team USA brings back 6 forwards including three pro players in Jeremy Morin, Jerry D'Amigo and Kyle Palmieri. Ryan Bourque, Chris Kreider, and Jason Zucker also return for the stars and stripes.

Wisconsin once again will be represented in on the coaching staff and in management. Former Badger player and assistant coach Mark Osiecki is an assistant coach for the second year in a row and former Badger Jim Johannson is the Team GM, also for the second consecutive season.

Team USA wraps up it's exhibition schedule on Thursday against Norway. They open up pool play on Sunday night vs Finland. All team USA games can be seen live on the NHL Network.

Seven WCHA players have been named team USA. Denver (Drew Shore, Jason Zucker) and North Dakota (Derek Forbort, Brock Nelson) have two players each, Wisconsin (Ramage), Minnesota (Nick Bjugstad), Minnesota-Duluth (Justin Faulk) all have one. Colorado College forward Jaden Schwartz and Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Dylan Olsen have been named to Team Canada. Also, Minnesota forward Erick Haula is playing for Finland.

Team USA Schedule (Central Time):
Sunday (12/26) vs Finland 7:00 PM HBC Arena-NHL Network
Tuesday (12/28) vs Slovakia 7:00 PM HBC Arena-NHL Network
Thursday (12/30) vs Germany 6:00 PM HBC Arena-NHL Network
Friday (12/31) vs Switzerland 7:00 PM HBC Arena-NHL Network

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's time to get on the Twitter train

I've been meaning to talk about this for a while but it's been busy around here and with a two week break between Badger series now is a good time to bring it up.

Twitter has become one of the best hockey and more specifically WCHA hockey resources on the internet. Virtually every WCHA team beat writer has an account, as do most WCHA fan bloggers. It's become a great source to communicate with writers from around the league and NCAA hockey even if you are just a fan.

Oh yeah, and some of our Wisconsin Badger players have created accounts as well. Captain Sean Dolan, Scott Gudmandson, Brett Bennett, and womens player Hilary Knight as well as former players Blake Geoffrion, Kyle Turris, Brad Winchester, Joe Piskula, Zach Bearson, Ryan Jeffery, John Mitchell, and Michael Davies all are twitter regulars.

I (obviously) have an account that I link to on every one of my posts. If you started following me last year, check to make sure you still are because I deleted my account the last time I pulled a Favre and retired and had to start a new one and lost all my followers. You can find my twitter acount here.

Here is a list of people to start following if you aren't already:

Current Wisconsin Players
@SeanDolan16
@Hilary_Knight
@BJBennett88
@ScottGudmandson

Former Wisconsin Players
@JohnMitchell24
@RyanCJeffery
@MikeGDavies
@ShaneConnelly
@zbearson
@BlakeGeoffrion
@BradWinchester
@kyleturris
@skoolz43

Wisconsin Hockey Media
@BadgerWHockey (official twitter)
@BadgerMHockey (official twitter)
@AndyBaggotWSJ (Wisconsin State Journal)
@maxhenson (Badger Herald)
@RobbVogel (WPT Play by play)
@TheBadgerNation (Badgernation.com)
@B5Q (Bucky's fifth quarter)
@TexWestern (Sixty Minutes Blog)
@ToddMilewski (madison.com)

WCHA Media
@patesonskates (Kevin Pates, Minnesota-Duluth)
@cpurcellOWH (Chad Purcell, Nebraska-Omaha)
@UNDSID (Jayson Hajdu, North Dakota SID)
@csgazzettehockey (Joe Paisley, Colorado College)
@WCHAHockey
@estromgren (Bemidji State)
@eyeonupuk (Minnesota)
@bruceciske (Minnesota-Duluth)
@SchlossmanGF (North Dakota)
@Puckato (Minnesota State)

WCHA Bloggers
@unomavmania (Nebraska-Omaha)
@goon48 (North Dakota)
@MavPuck (Nebraska-Omaha)
@uaafanblog (Alaska Anchorage)
@hammyhockey (Minnesota)
@fetch9 (The College Hockey Blog, North Dakota)
@chrisdilks (Western College Hockey)
@GopherPuckLive (Minnesota)
@runwiththedogs (Minnesota-Duluth)

If I've missed any that you think I should add to this list, please leave a comment. I probably missed a few on accident.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Morning Bracketology Week 7: 12/20/10

It's time once again for our weekly installment of Bracketology. This week finds the Wisconsin Badgers sitting at home once again come tournament time for the sixth week in a row. Similar to last week, we're hovering around the bubble. There weren't many games this week and we had a bye, so we end up #17 in the PWR in back to back weeks. Remember, we'd like to get to at least #13 or #14 to lock in an at large bid.

The WCHA lost an at large bid this week with Alaska leap frogging Colorado College. That means that the WCHA is projected to have 4 teams (North Dakota, Denver, Nebraska-Omaha, and Minnesota-Duluth) in the tournament with Colorado College, Wisconsin and Minnesota within striking distance.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Yale
2. Minnesota-Duluth
3. North Dakota
4. New Hampshire
5. Boston College
6. Denver
7. Nebraska-Omaha
8. Notre Dame
9. RPI
10. Miami
11. Michigan
12. Boston University
13. Maine
14. Union
15. Alaska
16. Atlantic Hockey Champion (Robert Morris)

Bubble Teams (in order): Colorado College, Wisconsin, Merrimack, Western Michigan, Minnesota

Step 2: Assign the seeds


No. 1 seeds: Yale, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota, New Hampshire
No. 2 seeds: Boston College, Denver, Nebraska-Omaha, Notre Dame
No. 3 seeds: RPI, Miami, Michigan, Boston University
No. 4 seeds: Maine, Union, Alaska, Robert Morris

Step 3: Place host teams in regionals

Right now we have two host schools in the tournament. New Hampshire is hosting the Northeast Regional in Manchester, and Yale is hosting the East Regional in Bridgeport. Therefore, UNH is placed as the #1 seed in Manchester and Yale is the #1 seed in Bridgeport.

Step 4: Place number 1 seeds in regionals
Number 1 seeds are placed based on proximity to regional site.

No. 1 Yale (Host) is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport
No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the Mid-West Regional in Green Bay
No. 3 North Dakota is placed in the West Regional in St. Louis
No. 4 UNH (Host) is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester

Step 5: Place the other 12 teams avoiding intra-conference match ups if possible Begin by filling in each bracket by banding groups. Remember that teams are not assigned to the regional closest to their campus sites by ranking order within the banding.

If this is the case, then the committee should seed so that the quarterfinals are seeded such that the four regional championships are played by No. 1 v. No. 8, No. 2 v. No. 7, No. 3 v. No. 6 and No. 4 v. No. 5.

Number 2 seeds:

No. 8 Notre Dame is placed in No. 1 Yale's Regional, the East Regional
No. 7 UNO is placed in No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 6 Denver is placed in No. 3 North Dakota's Regional, the West Regional
No. 5 Boston College is placed in No. 4 New Hampshire's Regional, the Northeast Regional

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 RPI is placed No. 8 Notre Dame's Regional, the East Regional
No. 10 Miami is placed in No. 7 UNO's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 11 Michigan is placed in No. 6 Denver's Regional, the West Regional
No. 12 BU is placed in No. 5 Boston College's Regional, the Northeast Regional

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Maine is placed in No. 4 UNH's Regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 14 Union is placed in No. 3 North Dakota's Regional, the West Regional
No. 15 Alaska is placed in No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 16 Robert Morris is placed in No. 1 Yale's Regional, the East Regional

Our bracket as we have it set up:

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
1 Yale vs 16 Robert Morris
8 Notre Dame vs 9 RPI

Mid-West Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Minnesota-Duluth vs 15 Alaska
7 Nebraska-Omaha vs 10 Miami

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 New Hampshire vs 13 Maine
5 Boston College vs 12 Boston University

West Regional (St. Louis, Missouri)
3 North Dakota vs 14 Union
6 Denver vs 11 Michigan

Our first concern is to avoid intra-conference first round match ups. Last week we had a ridiculous four. This week we have two and they are both in the Northeast Regional in Manchester.

Keep in mind teams can only be moved within their own band. Therefore, we're going to flip #13 Maine with #14 Union, and we're also going to flip #12 Boston University with #11 Michigan.

Our new tournament:

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
1 Yale vs 16 Robert Morris
8 Notre Dame vs 9 RPI

Mid-West Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Minnesota-Duluth vs 15 Alaska
7 Nebraska-Omaha vs 10 Miami

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 New Hampshire vs 14 Union
5 Boston College vs 11 Michigan

West Regional (St. Louis, Missouri)
3 North Dakota vs 13 Maine
6 Denver vs 12 Boston University

Bracket integrity looks strong.

There are no swaps that jump out at me to improve attendance without creating an intra-conference match up or ruining bracket integrity. Attendance looks strong in most of the regionals which should make the NCAA happy.

So that's what we'll go with for this week.

Week by week Wisconsin tournament tracker:
Week 1: #12 overall seed vs Michigan in Mid-West Regional in Green Bay
Week 2: First team out of the tournament, #16 in the PWR
Week 3: Falling further away from the tournament, #24 in the PWR
Week 4: Stopped the bleeding, moved up to #18 in the PWR
Week 5: Still hovering in the bubble, dropped a spot to #19 in PWR
Week 6: Gaining some ground, moved up to #17 in the PWR
Week 7: Stalemate, still at #17 in the PWR on a bye week.

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WCHA First Half Award Show

With all but two (SCSU and Tech) teams of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams done with the first half of their conference schedule, it's time to assess the first 14 games and give out some awards.

As always there are some surprises, and some things that shocked no one. The talk of the WCHA's first half is the play (or lack there of), of St. Cloud State in the first half of the season. Projected to finish in the top 3 in the conference by virtually everyone who follow the WCHA, St. Cloud has been a major disappointment sitting in 11th place in the WCHA at the half way mark. Garrett Roe looks lost out there with the departure of former line mate and SCSU all time point leader Ryan Lasch. Neither Mike Lee, nor Dan Dunn has gotten the job done in the net through the first half of the year.

One of those things that shocked no one has been the play of North Dakota through 14 games. I anointed the Fighting Sioux as my pre-season favorite for the National Championship immediately after last season ended if they were able to bring back the bulk of their roster which they were. Matt Frattin is playing like a Hobey Baker candidate this season with 17 total goals. The only surprise so far for the Sioux has been in goal where Brad Eidsness, the starter the past two seasons has been atrocious and Sophomore Aaron Dell has taken over the starting job. It's going to be an up hill battle, but Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, and Nebraska-Omaha are all within striking distance of North Dakota for the MacNaughton Cup.

First Half All-WCHA Team

First Team
F-Matt Frattin-North Dakota (Sr)
F-Jaden Schwartz-Colorado College (Fr)
F-Jack Connolly-Minnesota-Duluth (Jr)
D-Justin Schultz-Wisconsin (So)
D-Chay Genoway-North Dakota (Sr)
G-Scott Gudmandson-Wisconsin (Sr)

Second Team
F-Drew Shore-Denver (So)
F-Mark Zengerle-Wisconsin (Fr)
F-Justin Fontaine-Minnesota-Duluth (Sr)
D-Matt Donovan-Denver (So)
D-Kurt Davis-Minnesota State (Sr)
G-Sam Brittain-Denver (Fr)

Third Team
F-Jason Zucker-Denver (Fr)
F-Craig Smith-Wisconsin (So)
F-Matt Read-Bemidji State (Sr)
D-Justin Faulk-Minnesota-Duluth (Fr)
D-Jake Gardiner-Wisconsin (Jr)
G-Kent Patterson-Minnesota (Jr)

All-Rookie Team
F-Jaden Schwartz-Colorado College
F-Mark Zengerle-Wisconsin
F-Jason Zucker-Denver
D-Justin Faulk-Minnesota-Duluth
D-Nick Jensen-St. Cloud State
G-Sam Brittain-Denver

First Half WCHA Player of the Year: Matt Frattin (North Dakota)
First Half WCHA Rookie of the Year: Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College)

Brief first half thoughts on each team:

1. North Dakota
I've already provided some thoughts on UND so this will be short but they have lived up to the expectations so far which is something new for Dave Hakstol. Usually his UND teams start slow and pick up momentum, for their sake, I hope they haven't peaked too early. But let's be honest, this team is loaded, they will be at the top throughout the second half. Projected finish (1).

2. Denver (tie)
I'm not sure I would say I'm shocked that Denver is in second place at the break but I wouldn't have been shocked to see them in 7th either. There is a ton of parity in the WCHA this season and Denver is right there. They've gotten great production out of their outstanding freshman class. Sam Brittain is playing all world in goal and Jason Zucker has been better than advertised up front. Drew Shore is having a magical sophomore season and you know Denver is playing their hearts out for their buddy Jesse Martin who was seriously injured earlier in the season. Projected finish (3).

2. Minnesota-Duluth (tie)
Duluth has played as well as they could have in the first half of the season. Most expected them to be good, I'm not sure many expected them to be this good. They boast the second best line in the country with Connolly, Connolly, and Fontaine and they have played outstanding so far. Freshman defenseman Justin Faulk has been playing at a level that won't keep him in northern Minnesota very long. Their only real question mark is in goal where Kenny Reiter and Aaron Crandall have been alright but not fantastic. Projected finish (2).

4. Nebraska-Omaha
I picked UNO to finish fourth in my pre-season poll so I'm not surprised they are in this spot right now. I think they might have surprised some teams in the first half being new to the league and teams might have taken them for granted. The Mavericks don't have any standout players (as evidenced by having none on the All-WCHA team) but they have been playing great hockey for Dean Blais. Junior John Faulkner has been great in goal and is probably their first half MVP so far. Projected finish (4).

5. Colorado College
Raise your hand if you had CC getting home ice for the WCHA playoffs? ...I don't see many. Scott Owens has his club exceeding expectations at this point and rookie Jaden Schwartz has been as good as advertised. Joe Howe has been a mainstay in the nets for the Tigers and they are getting production up and down the lineup. Jaden's older brother Rylan is also having a big season. I'm not sure the Tigers can keep this pace in the second half but they are a team to watch. Projected Finish (7).

6. Wisconsin (tie)
Right on the edge of home ice is exactly where I projected the Badgers to be this season. Their young squad has looked phenomenal at times and lost at others. The roller coaster ride can drive one crazy at times but also makes you giddy at the potential of this roster. Scott Gudmandson has been great in goal and their top line of Jordy Murray, Craig Smith, and Mark Zengerle has been outstanding. Justin Schultz and Jake Gardiner are playing great hockey from the blue line as well. Projected Finish (5).

6. Minnesota (tie)
No one has doubted the talent on the Minnesota roster because in that department they are second to none. But as usual, Don Lucia hasn't been able to mold that talent in to a consistent winner. If this team doesn't finish in the top half of the WCHA this season you have to assume that this could be it for the Don in dinkytown. Kent Patterson has been the savior of the season so far for the Gophers. As he goes, so do the Gophers. Projected finish (6).

8. Alaska-Anchorage
Lots of Badger fans gasped when UW lost on Friday night up in Anchorage. But this isn't your fathers Seawolves team. Shiak has this team playing above expectations and this squad believes they can win every time they hit the ice. They have infused some young talent into this squad and Tommy Grant is having a solid season up at the North Pole. Projected finish (9).

9. Minnesota State
I've caught Minnesota State on TV a few times this season and they have a nice squad this year. Kurt Davis and Ben Youds are two of the best defensmen in the league and Phil Cooke has stood on his head at times this season to steal some games for the Mavericks. I'm not sure this squad has enough talent to make a legitimate run at home ice but they have the ability to upset any team in the league. Projected finish (8).

10. Bemidji State
I think Badger fans got a good view of what Bemidji brings to the table last weekend. They certainly have the ability to win games in this league but they don't have the depth on the roster to be a realistic player this season. Matt Read and Jordan George are great but they aren't getting much help. They are going to start recruiting a higher level of talent now that they are in the best league in the country and that should help in future years. Projected finish (11).

11. St. Cloud State
What can I say? They have been the disappointment of the league so far this season. Besides Drew LeBlanc no one is putting any points up on the board. Both goalies look disinterested and besides Nick Jensen on the blueline, everyone else is playing O'lay hockey. Bob Motzko has his work cut out for him in the second half to dig them out of this hole and I'm not confident they can move up much more than where they are at. Projected finish (10).

12. Michigan Tech
Yikes, these guys are just bad. I hate to be that blunt but they are playing awful. I have a tough time seeing Jamie Russell keeping his job after this season. 1 win and 1 tie in 12 conference games is unacceptable no matter what program you're in. Projected finish (12).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Former Badger Jake Dowell grants a wish...

Makes you pretty proud to be a Badger fan after watching this video of Jake from NBC Chicago.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Check these guys out

We've been getting linked up quite a bit this season (thanks Pates, Schlossman, and Paisley) from WCHA team beat writers from around the league for various things we've posted and we try and recipricate as much as we can. The WCHA has far and away the best beat writers in the country including our own Andy Baggot, and I just wanted to dedicate a post to them to make sure our readers are taking advantage of thier coverage as much as possible because they really do great work.

Here is a list of WCHA beat writers for every team and a link to either thier blog, or the newspaper they write for. Check them out.

Alaska Anchorage-Anchorage Daily News (Doyle Woody)
Bemidji State-Up North Sports Report (Eric Stromgren)
Colorado College-Colorado Springs Gazzette (Joe Paisley)
Denver-Denver Post (Mike Chambers)
Minnesota Duluth-Duluth News Tribune (Kevin Pates)
Minnesota State-Mankato Free Press (Shane Frederick)
Minnesota-Minneapolis Star Tribune (Roman Augustoviz)
Nebraska Omaha-Omaha.com (Chad Purcell)
North Dakota-Grand Forks Herald (Brad Elliott Schlossman)
St. Cloud State-St. Cloud Times (Mick Hatten)
Wisconsin-Wisconsin State Journal (Andy Baggot)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Late Tuesday (?) Bracketology Week 6: 12/14/10

It's time once again for our weekly installment of Bracketology. This week finds the Wisconsin Badgers sitting at home once again come tournament time for the fifth week in a row. Similar to last week, we're hovering around the bubble. With our sweep against Bemidji State, we moved up two spots from #19 to #17 in the PWR. Remember, we'd like to get to at least #13 or #14 to lock in an at large bid.

The WCHA picked up an at large bid in this weeks projections with Colorado College jumping up to #15 in the PWR. That means that the WCHA is projected to have 5 teams (North Dakota, Denver, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, and Colorado College) in the tournament with Wisconsin and Minnesota within striking distance.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Yale
2. Minnesota-Duluth
3. New Hampshire
4. Boston College
5. North Dakota
6. Denver
7. Nebraska-Omaha
8. Union
9. RPI
10. Notre Dame
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Boston University
14. Maine
15. Colorado College
16. Atlantic Hockey Champion (Robert Morris)

Bubble Teams (in order): Alaska, Wisconsin, Merrimack, Dartmouth, Minnesota

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Yale, Minnesota-Duluth, New Hampshire, Boston College
No. 2 seeds: North Dakota, Denver, Nebraska-Omaha, Union
No. 3 seeds: RPI, Notre Dame, Miami, Michigan
No. 4 seeds: Boston University, Maine, Colorado College, Robert Morris

Step 3: Place host teams in regionals

Right now we have two host schools in the tournament. New Hampshire is hosting the Northeast Regional in Manchester, and Yale is hosting the East Regional in Bridgeport. Therefore, UNH is placed as the #1 seed in Manchester and Yale is the #1 seed in Bridgeport.

Step 4: Place number 1 seeds in regionals
Number 1 seeds are placed based on proximity to regional site.

No. 1 Yale (Host) is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport
No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the Mid-West Regional in Green Bay
No. 3 UNH (Host) is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester
No. 4 Boston College is placed in the West Regional in St. Louis

Step 5: Place the other 12 teams avoiding intra-conference match ups if possible Begin by filling in each bracket by banding groups. Remember that teams are not assigned to the regional closest to their campus sites by ranking order within the banding.

If this is the case, then the committee should seed so that the quarterfinals are seeded such that the four regional championships are played by No. 1 v. No. 8, No. 2 v. No. 7, No. 3 v. No. 6 and No. 4 v. No. 5.

Number 2 seeds:

No. 8 Union is placed in No. 1 Yale's Regional, the East Regional
No. 7 UNO is placed in No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 6 Denver is placed in No. 3 New Hampshire's Regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 5 North Dakota is placed in No. 4 Boston College's Regional, the West Regional

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 RPI is placed No. 8 Union's Regional, the East Regional
No. 10 Notre Dame is placed in No. 7 UNO's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 11 Miami is placed in No. 6 Denver's Regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 12 Michigan is placed in No. 5 North Dakota's Regional, the West Regional

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Boston University is placed in No. 4 Boston College's Regional, the West Regional
No. 14 Maine is placed in No. 3 UNH's Regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 15 Colorado College is placed in No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 16 Robert Morris is placed in No. 1 Yale's Regional, the East Regional

Our bracket as we have it set up:

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
1 Yale vs 16 Robert Morris
8 Union vs 9 RPI

Mid-West Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Minnesota-Duluth vs 15 Colorado College
7 Nebraska-Omaha vs 10 Notre Dame

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
3 New Hampshire vs 14 Maine
6 Denver vs 11 Miami

West Regional (St. Louis, Missouri)
4 Boston College vs 13 Boston University
5 North Dakota vs 12 Michigan

Our first concern is to avoid intra-conference first round match ups. Unlike last week, where we had none, this week we have four. Union vs RPI, Duluth vs Colorado College, New Hampshire vs Maine, and BC vs BU.

Keep in mind teams can only be moved within thier own band. Therefore, we're going to flip #16 Robert Morris and #14 Maine, and #15 Colorado College and #13 Boston University. We also will flip #9 RPI with #10 Notre Dame.

Our new tournament:

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
1 Yale vs 14 Maine
8 Union vs 10 Notre Dame

Mid-West Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Minnesota-Duluth vs 13 Boston University
7 Nebraska-Omaha vs 9 RPI

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
3 New Hampshire vs 16 Robert Morris
6 Denver vs 11 Miami

West Regional (St. Louis, Missouri)
4 Boston College vs 15 Colorado College
5 North Dakota vs 12 Michigan

Bracket integrity looks strong.

There are no swaps that jump out at me to improve attendance without creating an intra-conference match up or ruining bracket integrity.

So that's what we'll go with for this week, I'm happy with it.

Week by week Wisconsin tournament tracker:
Week 1: #12 overall seed vs Michigan in Mid-West Regional in Green Bay
Week 2: First team out of the tournament, #16 in the PWR
Week 3: Falling further away from the tournament, #24 in the PWR
Week 4: Stopped the bleeding, moved up to #18 in the PWR
Week 5: Still hovering in the bubble, dropped a spot to #19 in PWR
Week 6: Gaining some ground, moved up to #17 in the PWR

chuckschwartz@live.com
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Badgers handle business, sweep Beavers

First of all, I want to apologize for my lack of posting in the past week. It was a busy week and I was almost done with the Bemidji preview on Thursday but I've been having computer/Internet issues since then and this is the first time I've had access. For that I apologize.

As for the series, it was nice to get a sweep. I was a bit worried when we went down 2-0 so early on Friday night but the boys were able to bounce back and earned four hard fought WCHA points.

You won't believe me but in the preview I wrote for the Bemidji series I was focusing on Wisconsin getting secondary scoring behind their top line and Gardiner/Shultz. Podge Turnbull stepped up this weekend with some extended playing time with two goals and Michael Mersch and Tyler Barnes each chipped in a couple of points on the weekend as well.

For the second straight weekend, Scott Gudmandson played in net both nights. He played well, stopping 46 of 48 shots on the weekend including all 21 on Saturday night.

The Badgers have the next two weekends off before hosting a Thursday/Friday non conference series at the Kohl Center on New Years Eve vs UMass.

Friday Night: Wisconsin 3, Bemidji State 2

WSJ (Baggot): It wasn't pretty but it's a win
Up North Sports Report (Stromgren): Wisconsin rallies, ends Bemidji State’s three-game winning streak with 3-2 win
UWBadgers.com: Badgers rally for 3-2 win over Bemidji State
UWBadgers.com: Statistics
UWBadgers.com: Quotes
UWBadgers.com: Photos
UWBadgers.com: Highlights
BSUBeavers.com: Badgers score three unanswered goals to drop Bemidji 3-2

Saturday Night: Wisconsin 2, Bemidji State 0

WSJ (Baggot): Badgers use blue-collar play to earn sweep of Bemidji State
Up North Sports Report (Stromgren): Wisconsin sweeps Bemidji State with 2-0 victory to end seasons' first half
UWBadgers.com: Badgers blank the beavers 2-0
UWBadgers.com: Statistics
UWBadgers.com: Quotes
UWBadgers.com: Photos
UWBadgers.com: Highlights
BSUBeavers.com: Offense dries up in 2-0 loss at Wisconsin

Photo courtesy of Melody Hasse

Friday, December 10, 2010

Random Friday Afternoon Thoughts

  • I can't remember when I posted it, but at some point earlier this season I said that I'd like to see more ES goals (and this was back when the team was actually scoring a lot of goals), saying that PP goals are nice, but at some point you have to score 5x5. Today, Andy Baggot addresses the same issue. In doing so, he discusses two factors that have been making me crazy lately:
    1.) not getting enough SOG (I was actually going to write a SOG post last week but just didn't have time.)
    2.) not creating enough traffic in front of the net
    I think the most telling point of this article was the final quote by Mike Eaves regarding the Badgers' current scoring approach:
    "I don't think it'll get us to where we want to be ultimately. We're going to have to forge up that part of our fort and find more offense."
    Now, the scoring approach has coaching aspects and player/execution aspects. I'd be especially interested in hearing more about how the coaching staff is addressing this, but I know that's just wishful thinking.
  • If Andy Baggot wants to talk about other things that bug me, I suggest he address the Badgers' lack of success in the face-off circle. I'm used to the Badgers doing better on the draw; there have been several games when face-offs won/lost were lopsided in favor of our opponents. I'd say that' I'm going to do a post on it next week, but I doubt I'll have time.
  • Since we're talking about things that bug me, I think I have to bring up this whole issue of outworking opponents / being outworked by opponents. Here's what Sean Dolan said prior to last weekend's games @ uaa: "
    We have success against them because we usually can outwork them and play harder than them. But we have to come ready to play from the drop of the puck, and bring it all three periods."
    And here's what Jordy Murray said prior to the Nov 19/20 games v. UMD:
    [UMD is] way different than NoDak also; they’re more skilled, but we don’t think they work as hard. We watched a lot of video on them this week, and we broke down their game. If we outwork them — which is what we plan to do — and get after their D and get after their smaller forwards. We match up good against these guys.
    The Badgers lost two OT games to UMD and split with UAA. Listening to Friday's UAA game and following Capo's blog, it was clear that the Badgers were outworked by the Seawolves. Stuff like this bugs me. It's one thing if a team has more talent or better execution, or if both teams are working hard with one team having an edge, but being clearly outworked is a problem. According to Baggot, Eaves said that players' efforts improved in practice on Wednesday. Let's hope this improvement carries through into both games this weekend.
  • Bemidji State is certainly on a roll lately. I remember earlier in the season being a bit surprised about UNO's success (I thought they'd do well but not as well as they did) and feeling kinda bad about Bemidji. Now Bemidji has won 3 of their past 4 games, including a 3-0, 3-1 sweep of UNO, and they're just 1 point behind the Badgers (although that may have more to do with the Badgers not having as many points as we'd like). CHN just picked them as their team of the week, and Scott Bakala was named WCHA Co-Defensive POTW, INCH POTW, and USCHO 1st Star. But the Beavers are still in the bottom half of the WCHA, with a conference record similar to the Badgers (although the Badgers have a better non-conference weekend.) Should be an interesting match-up, although I'm hopeful for 2 Badger victories.

It's Friday, I'm in Love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love



BADGER MEN v. bemidji state: FRI / SAT 7PM
We definitely want to get the crowd into it right away and let them know that this is a tough place to play and somewhere that they are going to hate to come back to. - Sean Dolan

[The Beavers] are hard workers. It’s going to be a challenge and we have to match that on our end. - Sean Dolan

We are 4-6-2 in our league and that’s just not going to cut it. Hopefully we can get two wins here this weekend and get on a roll. - Jake Gardiner [Henson]

I think we have more energy - I don’t want to say we’ve had more of a commitment to defense because if you take a look all year, we’ve played a lot of good games and still lost. Some things just probably went our way and we were tough to play against. - Tom Serratore.

The keys to the game for sure is do the right things, the small things the whole game. We’ve got to go into Wisconsin. It’s a tough arena to play in, and we have to go out there in the first 10 minutes and establish our game and establish how tough we are on pucks and how smart we can play with the puck … Hopefully we win all those little battles and at the end of the game we come out victorious. - Matt Read [Stromgren]
UW: 4-6-2 WCHA, 8-7-3 overall (last weekend 1-2, 3-1 @ uaa)
bsu: 4-7-1 WCHA, 5-8-1 overall (last weekend 3-0, 3-1 v. uno)


Gameday Links
TV:
- Friday: live - TVW, Charter Extra, Time Warner Sports; tape delay - Wisconsin Channel (11PM Fri and 12PM Sat)
- Saturday: live - FSN Wisconsin; tape delay - Wisconsin Channel (10PM Sat and 12PM Sun)
Radio: Friday/Saturday WIBA 1310
Audio webstream: insideBADGERSPORTS ($9.95/mo), beaverradionetwork (free)
Video webstream:
- live: Friday only, outside WI only - insideBADGERSPORTS ($9.95/mo)
- delay: Friday 11PM/Sat 12PM & Sat 10PM/Sun 12PM - The Wisconsin Channel (free)
Live stats: CBSSports GameTracker - Friday, Saturday
Live blog: none
Live tweetcast: CHN

Weekly Shooutout Winner
This week, THE DANGEROUS JORDY MURRAY won the shootout over his linemates, 1st-star Zengerle and Craig Smith. What fun!

Previous Winners:
12/2 Tyler Barnes
11/25 Hobey Mersch
11/18 Jordy Murray
11/11 Justin Schultz
11/04 Scott Gudmandson
10/28 Ryan Little
10/21 Jefferson Dahl
10/14 Keegan Meuer

(Thanks again to Paul Capobianco.)


Badger
Lines
Per Baggot, Eaves made a couple of changes in the lineup to send a message. Here's how things looked on Wednesday, with Eaves indicating that things may (or may not) change again this weekend. (Baggot hasn't yet posted yesterday's lines.) The top two forward lines are what we've been accustomed to, but the other two are a bit different, with Podge Turbull and Ryan Little switching lines. Gavin Hartzog, who made the trip to Anchorage last weekend but did not play, replaces Jason Clark on the 4th line
Jordy Murray - Craig Smith - Mark Zengerle
Michael Mersch - Derek Lee - Tyler Barnes
Patrick Johnson - Sean Dolan - Podge Turnbull
Gavin Hartzog - Jefferson Dahl - Ryan Little

Jake Gardiner - Justin Schultz
Craig Johnson - John Ramage

Frankie Simonelli - Eric Springer

Scott Gudumandson
Brett Bennett
Baggot didn't say anything about the D or G positions, so I'm assuming the D pairings remain the same and that Goody will start tonight.


beaver lines
Sorry, I don't have 'em.


Series Previews
uwbadgers: preview, game notes
bsubeavers: preview, game notes
Baggot (WSJ): UW men's hockey vs. bemidji state university (no link yet, the last time he had a preview with opponent's lines was Nov 19/20 v. UMD, *sigh*)
Baggot (WSJ): Eaves sends a message
Sternberg/Evans (Daily Cardinal): Ryan, Eaves look for improvement over break
Henson (Badger Herald): New WCHA foe Bemidji St. visits Kohl
Stromgren (Bemidji Pioneer): Bemidji State men's hockey team faces Wisconsin in first-half finale


Other Articles/Links
Baggot (WSJ): Badgers look for more balance on their attack

The Usual Suspects
CHN: Tale of the Tape, Team of the Week: Bemidji State
USCHO: This Week in the WCHA (Spisak), WCHA Picks (Spisak/Buckentine), Weekend of (Spisak), Bakala, Thompson, Gron earn USCHO 3 Stars for Dec. 8 (staff)
INCH: WCHA notebook, Friday Four-cast, First Shift (Bakala is Player of the Week)
WCHA: This Week in the WCHA Radio Show, CC’s Schwartz, BSU’s Bakala, MSU’s Cook, DU’s Zucker Named Red Baron® WCHA Players of the Week
Goon's World: Weekend Match-ups (Sioux 7)

Has anyone noticed that USCHO's This Week in the WCHA is starting to strongly resemble INCH's WCHA notebook in that it only really talks about a couple of teams in the WCHA? Back in the day (miss ya, Todd & Eric), it actually talked about the entire league. *sigh*


The WCHA's Finest
- Just because I look so stupid that Badger fans would recognize me anywhere . . . umm, well, ... umm . .. - Todd Anderson

- I'm telling you Mike, if we take the time to make the right call each time, we'll never finish this game. Sometimes ya just gotta make a call and move on, we wanna get out of here to make our reservation at Red Lobster. - Don Adam

- Mike, I thought you knew, we just make this **** up as we go along. Really, you didn't know? (Oh crap, Derek told me to keep that to myself. I hope he doesn't call Dad!) - Brad Shepherd
Referees
3-Derek Shepherd; 4-Todd Anderson; 5-Justin Brown; 7-Don Adam; 8-Tom Sterns; 9-C.J. Beaurline; 10-Peter Friesema; 11-Tim Walsh; 12-Butch Mousseaux (R-L); 14- Brian Thul; 15-Marco Hunt; 17-Craig Welker; 18-Max Battimo; 20-Brad Albers; 21-Paul Depyudt; 22-Bill Mason; 23-Matt Ulwelling (R-L); 24-Jon Campion; 25-Mike McCreary; 27-Jonathan Morrison; 29-Scott Bokal; 31-Brett Klosowski; 33-Brad Shepherd.

Linesmen (at UW)
34-Ed Moberg; 38-Dan Carey; 42-Dan Dineen; 51-Mike Gulenchyn; 65-Matt Gerlach; 87-Brad Roethlisberger.


GreatPotowotamiChief says . . .
"Me'skwak Msuguk wisnuk muk...kogannish winsIsen" . . . "RedBadger eat-up beaver...Get two pelts."

HatchetJoe says . . .
"3 pts." (come on Joe, The Chief says 2 W's, what's your problem?)

ToT says . . .
"Bring another round of bluegills . . ." (Hmm, I'm pretty sure this was actually said by HatchetJoe . . .)



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Zach Stepan to Ohio State

Shattuck St. Mary's forward Zach Stepan, cousin of former Wisconsin forward Derek, has given his verbal commitment to Ohio State. @hammyhockey was the first to tip me off and it has been confirmed by the Chris Heisenberg recruiting website.

I'll post more information as I get it.

chuckschwartz@live.com
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As expected, Ramage named to USA prelim roster

There were no major surprises Tuesday morning when USA Hockey announced the names of 29 players who are being invited to it's pre-tournament camp.

Like the headline says, Wisconsin defenseman John Ramage, who was projected as a lock, was named to the preliminary roster. The "lock" status for John Ramage comes a year after he was a shocking selection by Dean Blais and company for last seasons USA World Junior Championship squad.

Last year Ramage wasn't even invited to the USA Hockey summer evaluation camp but at the urging of former Badger assistant coach Mark Osiecki, was added to the roster. Ramage would go on to play a phenomenal tournament en route to a gold medal for the United States.

The 29 players invited by USA hockey will go up to New York from December 17-23 and play in some exhibition contests. The roster will be narrowed down from 29 to 22 prior to the teams final exhibition contest against Norway.

This years World Junior Championship is being held in Buffalo, NY and will run from December 26th through January 5th.

Ramage is only expected to miss one weekend of games for the Badgers. Unlike in the past, where key players have missed key WCHA series, this year Ramage will only be gone for the home series against UMass over New Years thanks to a 2 weekend scheduling break after this weekends home series vs Bemidji State.

Former Wisconsin defenseman and assistant coach Mark Osiecki will be an assistant for the second year in a row for team USA. Also former Badger Jim Johannson will once again serve as General Manager for the US squad.

Preliminary Roster

Goalies
Jack Campbell-Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Andy Isles-Cornell

Defense
Adam Clendening-Boston University
Brian Dumoulin-Boston College
Justin Faulk-Minnesota-Duluth
John Ramage-Wisconsin
Nick Leddy-Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Derek Forbort-North Dakota
Jon Merril-Michigan
Jamie Oleksiak-Northeastern
Philip Samuelsson-Boston College
Patrick Wey-Boston College

Forwards
Nick Bjugstad-Minnesota
Ryan Bourque-Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Connor Brickley-Vermont
Chris Brown-Michigan
Mitch Callahan-Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Charlie Coyle-Boston University
Jerry D'Amigo-Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Emerson Etem-Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Rocco Grimaldi-USA NTDP U18
Chris Kreider-Boston College
Jeremy Morin-Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Brock Nelson-North Dakota
Matt Neito-Boston University
Kyle Palmieri-Syracuse Crunch (AHL)
Brandon Saad-Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Drew Shore-Denver
Jason Zucker-Denver

chuckschwartz@live.com
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Wisconsin Recruiting: McCoshen in future plans?

With the 2011 recruiting class complete, and only a spot or two left in the 2012 class, it's time to start focusing on the future. Wisconsin at this point doesn't have a true 2013 commitment (Tim Davison and Brad Navin are 2012 or 2013). It's been rare in Eaves tenure at Wisconsin that he doesn't have a prospect locked up that far down the line.

One of the elite targets for that 2013 recruiting class that I've alerted you to on this blog in the past is Hudson, Wisconsin defenseman Ian McCoshen who is currently playing with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL.

McCoshen is one of only a handful of 1995 born players in the country playing in the USHL. If you check his stats out, you'll notice that he's only played in 4 of Waterloo's 18 contests so far this season. Don't let that fool you, McCoshen is an elite talent that PK O'Handley at Waterloo is bringing along slowly, putting him in spots that he can succeed. Expect the 6'2, 190 pound defensemans minutes to expand exponentially as he gets more comfortable in the USHL.

In an effort to expand our coverage and make this site one of the best resources for Wisconsin hockey on the interenet, we've been providing you with exclusive interviews with potential recruits this season. We've already featured NTDP defenseman Joey Fiala (who later committed to Western Michigan) and Shattuck St. Marys forward Zach Stepan (who is still undecided).

McCoshen was kind enough to do an interview with us on Monday. We can't thank him enough for the time. Very mature for a kid his age.

Chuck Schwartz: You made the move from Shattuck St. Marys (Prep School) to the USHL this season. Can you tell us a little bit about the decision to make that jump and why you decided to make that move instead of staying at Shattuck?

Ian McCoshen: The process to make the decision to play in the USHL started in the summer of 2009. I went to Waterloo's tryout camp and made it up until the all star game. Then I saw that another young defenseman Nick Ebert (1994 birthdate) had made the team. So I essentially said to myself and my dad that could be me in one year. Also the decision to not stay at Shattuck - St. Marys for another year seemed like a terrible idea at the beginning of this year but it has worked out really well.

Another thing was that I played with the 94 team the year before and I wanted to move up with them and that is not what SSM is about. They have it planned for you without your consent. Other wise it was by far the best year of my life with buddies and playing hockey with them too.

CS: Elite prospects that are developed as much as you are for your age are always under consideration for Canadian Major Juniors. You’ve had no problem in the past making a move to further your development. Is the OHL something that you’re considering at this point?

McCoshen: Honestly just a little bit, but college is still the number one priority for me.

CS: I know you spent a lot of time playing with the Fire (AAA Youth Program) and Shattuck but it has to be cool to see other Hudson kids doing well at the next level (Davis Drewiske in the NHL, Andy Bohmbach wrapped up a nice career at UW, Jake Drewiske captain at St. Lawrence).

McCoshen: It's always good for the community that you grow up in to get recognition for their hard work and determination to work for a goal like say college or another step the NHL. I used to go to the games when Bohmbach and Drewiske were studs for the Hudson Raiders. Also it is just inspiration for the younger kids growing up in the association to see where they got with hard work.

CS: Being one of the top 1995 born players in the country you’ll most likely have your pick of colleges should you go that route. Can you tell us a little about what you’re looking for in a school?

McCoshen: Academics, athletics and place to play all four years. Coaching staff is a big part of it. Does it socially fit me as a person? How is the travel for the athletics? Is hockey big at that school? A place to call my home for the best years of my life.

CS: I know you’re a few years out from entering college, but I’m sure you’ve had some contact with some schools. Can you tell us whom you’ve been in contact with and who you are considering?

McCoshen: Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. I have met the Wisconsin defensive coach (Bill Butters). I like him and I have met a guy from Ohio State who was a great guy too. Also I haven't made a decision, and wont for a while yet.

CS: You will be eligible for the NTDP as well next year. If presented with an opportunity, would that be something that you would be interested in or would you prefer to stay with Waterloo?

McCoshen: It is a great honor to play for your country at any time with the best players your age from all over the U.S.. I have to stay loyal to the Waterloo Black Hawks for giving me this opportunity. I would have to say that I will stay with Waterloo. They believe in me in ways I haven't discovered yet. I have to just keep being positive and working my way up the ladder and keep getting confidence from each game played.

CS: Most of our readers haven’t gotten a chance to see you play. Can you give us a little scouting report on your style of play and who you maybe try and style your game after?

McCoshen: I am a big guy who can be physical. I am continually working on the defense part of my game. I feel i'm a good skater but I still work on that daily. Some offense ability, I work on that everyday as well. Pretty good shooting ability, while still working on that everyday as well. Maybe a Shea Weber.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Like I mentioned earlier in the post, we can't thank Ian enough for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview with us. We'll be tracking his progress with Waterloo over the next few seasons.

chuckschwartz@live.com
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Monday Morning Bracketology Week 5: 12/6/10

It's time once again for our weekly installment of Bracketology. This week finds the Wisconsin Badgers sitting at home once again come tournament time for the fourth week in a row. Similar to last week, we're hovering around the bubble. With our split up at Alaska, we dropped one spot from #18 to #19 in the PWR. Remember, we'd like to get to at least #13 to lock in an at large bid.

The WCHA dropped an at large bid this week with Minnesota dropping out after a sweep at Minnesota State. So the conference is sitting at 4 at large teams in the tournament this week with CC, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Bemidji all under consideration.

Step 1: Pick the 16 tournament teams

1. Yale
2. Minnesota-Duluth
3. Denver
4. North Dakota
5. Boston College
6. New Hampshire
7. Notre Dame
8. Nebraska-Omaha
9. Union
10. RPI
11. Miami
12. Dartmouth
13. Maine
14. Boston University
15. Alaska
16. Atlantic Hockey Champion (Niagara)

Bubble Teams (in order): Michigan, Merrimack, Colorado College, Wisconsin, Clarkson

Step 2: Assign the seeds

No. 1 seeds: Yale, Minnesota-Duluth, Denver, North Dakota
No. 2 seeds: Boston College, New Hampshire, Notre Dame, Nebraska-Omaha
No. 3 seeds: Union, RPI, Miami, Dartmouth
No. 4 seeds: Maine, BU, Alaska, Niagara

Step 3: Place host teams in regionals

Right now we have two host schools in the tournament. New Hampshire is hosting the Northeast Regional in Manchester, and Yale is hosting the East Regional in Bridgeport. Therefore, UNH is placed as the #2 seed in Manchester and Yale is the #1 seed in Bridgeport.

Step 4: Place number 1 seeds in regionals
Number 1 seeds are placed based on proximity to regional site.

No. 1 Yale (Host) is placed in the East Regional in Bridgeport
No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth is placed in the Mid-West Regional in Green Bay
No. 3 Denver is placed in the West Regional in St. Louis
No. 4 North Dakota is placed in the Northeast Regional in Manchester

Step 5: Place the other 12 teams avoiding intra-conference match ups if possible Begin by filling in each bracket by banding groups. Remember that teams are not assigned to the regional closest to their campus sites by ranking order within the banding.

If this is the case, then the committee should seed so that the quarterfinals are seeded such that the four regional championships are played by No. 1 v. No. 8, No. 2 v. No. 7, No. 3 v. No. 6 and No. 4 v. No. 5.

Number 2 seeds:

No. 8 Nebraska-Omaha is placed in No. 1 Yale's Regional, the East Regional
No. 7 Notre Dame is placed in No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 6 UNH (host) is placed in No. 4 North Dakota's Regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 5 Boston College is placed in No. 3 Denver's Regional, the West Regional

Number 3 seeds:

No. 9 Union is placed No. 8 Nebraska Omaha's Regional, the East Regional
No. 10 RPI is placed in No. 7 Notre Dame's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 11 Miami is placed in No. 6 New Hampshire's Regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 12 Dartmouth is placed in No. 5 Boston College's Regional,the West Regional

Number 4 seeds:

No. 13 Maine is placed in No. 4 North Dakota's Regional, the Northeast Regional
No. 14 Boston University is placed in No. 3 Denver's Regional, the West Regional
No. 15 Alaska is placed in No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth's Regional, the Mid-West Regional
No. 16 Niagara is placed in No. 1 Yale's Regional, the East Regional

Our bracket as we have it set up:

East Regional (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
1 Yale vs 16 Niagara
8 Nebraska-Omaha vs 9 Union

Mid-West Regional (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
2 Minnesota-Duluth vs 15 Alaska
7 Notre Dame vs 10 RPI

Northeast Regional (Manchester, New Hampshire)
4 North Dakota vs 13 Maine
6 New Hampshire vs 11 Miami

West Regional (St. Louis, Missouri)
3 Denver vs 14 Boston University
5 Boston College vs 12 Dartmouth

Our first concern is to avoid intra-conference first round match ups. Unlike last week, where we had three match ups that we needed to change, this week we're good.

Bracket integrity looks strong.

There are no swaps that jump out at me to improve attendance without creating an intra-conference match up or ruining bracket integrity.

So that's what we'll go with for this week, I'm happy with it.

Week by week Wisconsin tournament tracker:
Week 1: #12 overall seed vs Michigan in Mid-West Regional in Green Bay
Week 2: First team out of the tournament, #16 in the PWR
Week 3: Falling further away from the tournament, #24 in the PWR
Week 4: Stopped the bleeding, moved up to #18 in the PWR
Week 5: Still hovering in the bubble, dropped a spot to #19 in PWR

chuckschwartz@live.com
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Badgers suffer another heart breaker

All you need to know: Badgers got scored on with 8.1 seconds remaining to lose 2-1. As Gus Johnson would say...heart break city.

WSJ (Nevala): Badgers lose on late goal in Alaska
Anchorage Daily News (Woody): UAA wins with 8 ticks left
UWBadgers.com: Badgers stunned late in Anchorage, 2-1
UWBadgers.com: Final Stats
GoSeawolves.com: Late goal lifts UAA over #15 Wisconsin
UAA Hockey Fan Blog: Post game interviews 12/3/10 vs Wisconsin
UAA Hockey Fan Blog: Seawolves get game winner at :08.1
USCHO.com: Box Score

BOX SCORE

First Period:

Second Period:
5:49-UAA-Craig Parkinson (Luka Vidmar, Jade Portwood) (Short Handed)
15:00-UW-Jordy Murray (Craig Smith, Jake Gardiner)

Third Period:
19:51-UAA-Tommy Grant (Jordan Kwas, Vidmar)

Saves:
Anchorage (Gunderson): 22 shots, 21 saves
Wisconsin (Gudmandson): 31 shots, 29 saves

Scores from around the WCHA:

Bemidji State 3, Nebraska-Omaha 0
Minnesota State 3, Minnesota 2
North Dakota 3, St. Cloud 1
Colorado College 7, Michigan Tech 3
Denver 5, Minnesota-Duluth 4

Friday, December 3, 2010

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

This will have to be quick, because I have to run off to work, but I thought I'd add a few brief thoughts:
  • I included this in "I'm in Love", but I just wanted to post a quick link here. At the risk of being a condescending F'er from Wisconsin (paraphrasing JB's words), let me say that I think this is hilarious.
  • Finding the silver lining in Wisconsin's OT Futility Clock (really, there's a silver lining?), hey, at least it hasn't been running as long as UAA's Wisconsin Futility Clock, as they haven't won a game v. UW since Nov 4, 2006.
  • Speaking of OT futility, I'm still a bit upset that Friday's game even went to overtime. That first Michigan goal was TERRIBLE. As a general principle, I don't mind Bennett playing the puck, but dang, I wish he'd use a bit more judgment sometimes.
  • And while we're talking about goaltending, my wish for this weekend is a bit more consistency in net. Both Badger goaltenders have shown they can make spectacular plays, but both have also had moments that left me saying, "Really??". I'd like nothing more than to be able to once again post "Scott Gudmandson/Brett Bennett I'm in Love".
  • Which reminds me, I'd also like to be able to post something about The Dangerous Jordy Murray, because (*gasp*) I had completely forgot that I was calling him that. Don't take it personally that I forgot, Jordy -- anyone will tell you that my memory is terrible, and you know we all luv ya!