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Badgers Hockey Preview: “White-Out” Against Michigan

The Matchup: Michigan vs. Wisconsin
Dates: Friday/Saturday, Feb 17/18; 8pm/7pm CT
Location: Madison, Wis.; Kohl Center (15,359)
Ice Surface: 200’ X 97′
TV: Friday — BTN; Saturday — Fox Sports Wisconsin
Stream: BTN2Go
Radio: Friday/Saturday — WIBA-AM 1310
Audio Stream: Badgersportsnetwork.com (Free)
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 72-55-10
Last Meeting: Michigan win, 4-1 (Dec. 10, 2016)

Wisconsin looks to get back on track after being swept for the first time all season long last weekend. This weekend will be a “white-out” for the Badgers fans in the Kohl Center as Michigan comes to town after splitting their series with Michigan State.

The pressure continues to mount for the Badgers, who went from ranked to unranked after the two losses to Penn State. UW also dropped to second place in the Big Ten standings as Minnesota went three points clear.

Can the Badgers right the ship and continue to press for a Big Ten regular season title and an all-important NCAA tournament berth? Winning this series is a must given Minnesota, Penn State and Ohio State are up next on the slate.

About Michigan

Record: 9-14-3 (2-8-2-2 B1G)
Head Coach: Red Berenson — 844-421-92 (33 seasons at Michigan, overall)
Notable: Michigan has loved playing in the Kohl Center, owning a five-game winning streak at UW’s house. It hasn’t lost to the Badgers at the KC since a weekend sweep back in January of 2014.

Stats Leaders:

Points: Jake Slaker (19 points — 6 goals, 13 assists)
Goals: Tony Calderone (10)
Assists: Slaker (13)
Save Pct.: Hayden Lavigne (.908)
Goals Against Average: Lavigne (2.99)

About Wisconsin Badgers

Record: 15-10-1 (8-4-0-0 B1G)
Head Coach: Tony Granato (15-10-1; 1st season and overall)
Notable: The first goal has been a really good indicator for the Badgers this season, especially as of late. In Wisconsin’s previous seven games the winner of said game is the same as the first team to score on the night. Wisconsin’s five-game winning streak coincided with a five-game streak of scoring the first goal. Last weekend saw Penn State notch the opening goals in both games and went on to win them both as well.

Stats Leaders

Points: Luke Kunin (29 — 19 goals, 10 assists)
Goals: Kunin (19)
Assists: Cameron Hughes (19)
Save Pct.: Jack Berry (.893)
Goals Against Average: Jack Berry – 2.67

Prediction

The task at hand is simple — Wisconsin must win the series this weekend if it has any hope of an NCAA tournament berth.

Sure, big series wins over Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State to end the season would be helpful. None of it matters if Wisconsin can’t take care of business this weekend. That means solving a Wolverines squad that has been wildly erratic all season long.

Michigan is one of the youngest teams in college hockey, while the Badgers have been leaning on the combination of talent and experience to get them this far. Look for Luke Kunin, Grant Besse and the gang to have a good weekend.

Throw out the “Michigan owns Wisconsin at the Kohl Center” theory. That was Michigan at its best and Wisconsin on a severe nose-dive to the bottom of the barrel. UW will need to start off hot, but given what happened last weekend I expect them to bounce back and earn the sweep they need to keep NCAA tournament and Big Ten title hopes alive.

Friday: Wisconsin 5, Michigan 2
Saturday: Wisconsin 4, Michigan 3

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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