There isn’t a lot of mystery in the game of hockey.
Coach Mike Eaves makes it very clear that if his Wisconsin team comes out and accomplishes what the set forth, they should be victorious.
The Badgers (6-5-1, 2-2-0-0 Big Ten) welcome Colorado College (2-10-3, 2-5-3-0 NCHC) to Madison Friday and Saturday. With the two games reunites two teams who know just about everything there is to know about one another.
The mathcups will be the 185th and 186th in history, making UW vs. CC the second-most played rivalry for the Badgers, behind only Minnesota (268). Wisconsin’s won 109 of the facings against Colorado. They’ve won more time against this school than any other in program history.
The hopes for Wisconsin and coach Eaves is that the home cooking continues this weekend. After a 7-1, 4-3 sweep over Big Ten rival, Penn State, last weekend, Wisconsin is 5-0-1 at home this season, the second-best home start to a season at the Kohl Center behind the 8-0-1 start the 2003-04 Badgers posted. UW is 2-0-0 on its current school-record long 12-game home stand.
Experience, opportunitstic scoring and goaltending seem to be three common themes that stand out when looking at the matchup from Bucky’s view.
Wisconsin boasts three of the most experienced skaters in all of college hockey with seniors Michael Mersch (132 games played), Tyler Barnes (131) and Frankie Simonelli (130) all ranking among the national leaders in games played.
”I thought his decision making, when to go out and get pucks and play pucks got better as the game went along” – Mike Eaves on junior goalie, Joel Rumpel.
Junior goaltender Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) has started three consecutive games and four of the last five contests for UW after missing five with a leg injury. Rumpel’s 4-1-0 record has him sharing seventh in the nation with a .800 winning percentage.
“I thought Rumpz (Joel Rumpel) settled in too. I thought his decision making, when to go out and get pucks and play pucks got better as the game went along,” Eaves said after UW’s sweep of Penn State. “You know that’s his fourth game since the end of March so it’s good for him to get in there and play, stop some pucks and feel and win and there’s another good thing about tonight.”
Offensively for Wisconsin, sophomore forward Nic Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif.) will draw a lot of attention when on the ice.
The swift-footed Kerdiles has three consecutive two-point games after posting a goal and an assist in each game last weekend against Penn State. He broke a 3-3 deadlock in the third period last Saturday to score his first game-winning goal of the season at 11:52 of the final stanza. His seventh goal of the season tied him for the team lead with 14 points in 12 games.
Another offensive threat has to be Michael Mersch who snapped UW’s three-game Power Play drought with a tally last Saturday against Penn State. UW was 0-for-9 during the three game drought and had gone 17 consecutive power plays without a goal before the tally.
Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) has scored goals in four of his last five contests, including three consecutive games. He leads the Badgers with eight goals. Mersch’s 0.67 goals per game is the top mark among Big Ten skaters, while his eight goals are one off Big Ten leader Ryan Dzingel of Ohio State.