Matchup: No. 7 Wisconsin vs. No. 4 North Dakota
Dates: Friday/Saturday; Nov. 3/4; 7pm CT
Location: Madison, Wis.; Kohl Center (15,359)
TV: Fox Sports Wisconsin Plus (Fri.); Fox Sports Wisconsin (Sat.)
Radio: 1310 WIBA
Outside of seeing Minnesota on the schedule, nothing gets the blood pumping for Badgers hockey players and fans like seeing the University of North Dakota on the schedule. These old-school rivals meet again as non-conference foes at the Kohl Center this weekend.
It’s a perfect tune up for the Badgers, who head in to Big Ten play in a major way next weekend, to prep for the grind. It is also the first time a ranked opponent comes to the Kohl Center this season.
With a long, storied and heated history between these two former conference foes this weekend is bound to bring back WCHA memories and plenty of heated reactions from the fans. It also brings quality hockey matchups back to the Kohl Center. Let’s take a look at how this series shapes up.
About North Dakota:
Record: 5-2-1 (1-1-0 NCHC)
Head Coach: Brad Berry (60-24-8, 3rd year at UND and overall)
Notable: The last time the Fighting Hawks came to Madison they were the Fighting Sioux and it was 2014. It was a successful trip for UND, as they swept the weekend series. UND has played four games on the road already this season, owning a 2-1-1 record with a pair of overtime games against Alaska-Anchorage to start the season and a split series against Colorado College last weekend.
Fighting Hawks Stat Leaders:
Points: Christian Wolanin (8 – 3 goals, 5 assists)
Goals: Wolanin and Grant Mismash (3)
Assists: Wolanin (5)
Save Pct.: Cam Johnson (.925)
Goals Against: Johnson (1.93)
Record: 6-3-0 (1-1-0 B1G)
Head Coach: Tony Granato (24-16-1 in 2nd Year at UW and overall)
Notable: Wisconsin’s offense has been on fire as of late, after a struggle in the shots department early on. Last weekend the Badgers outshot St. Lawrence by a combined 77-32 margin, including holding the Saints to just 13 shots on Saturday. Unfortunately, those 13 shots were enough to get a victory for the visitors as Jack Berry let in four of the six goals in 42 minutes played before being pulled. Can Berry help keep star goaltender Kyle Hayton fresh as Big Ten play begins in earnest next weekend.
Badgers Stat Leaders:
Points: Will Johnson, Trent Frederic (10)
Goals: Ryan Baker, Frederic (5)
Assists: Johnson (7)
Save Pct.: Kyle Hayton (.901)
Goals Against: Jack Berry (2.32)
Throw records and rankings out the window, these two programs plain don’t like each other and you can bet the head coaches have let the players know what this series means to them personally. However, on the ice this is going to be a very interesting matchup between UW’s high-scoring offense and the UND defense that is allowing just 1.6 goals per game. The Fighting Hawks also come in to this one averaging 3.0 goals per game and that could be trouble for a Wisconsin defense that has had issues keeping opposing teams off the scoreboard.
Also, we’re just going to put this here for old-times sake.
Friday: Wisconsin 4, North Dakota 2
Saturday: Wisconsin 3, North Dakota 4
I can see this being a tight, hard-fought series and that means a split at the Kohl Center. While the Badgers number suggest over 8,400 fans have come to games so far this season that’s largely been a fudged number compared to the swaths of empty seats outside of the student section when games have been televised. Let’s hope UW fans show up for one of the biggest rivalries in college hockey.