Matchup: No. 5/6 Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan
Dates: Friday/Saturday; Oct. 20/21; Fri. 7pm/Sat. 5pm CT
Location: Green Bay, Wis.; Resch Center
Radio: 1310 WIBA (FRI.)/1070 WTSO (SAT.)
It seems like this is becoming an annual tradition, and you would be right. Wisconsin and Northern Michigan know each other well and they also know the Resch Center well too. In fact, the two teams haven’t met up in Marquette, Mich. since 1996 to be exact.
With the two teams set to take to the ice in the supposed neutral territory of Green Bay, Wis., it hasn’t exactly been fun for the Badgers against NMU lately. The Badgers own just a UW is 5-7-2 against NMU the last five years.
Last season was more of the same, as the two sides found a way to split the weekend series that was held in Green Bay. Northern Michigan took the first game and UW earned a 6-5 nail-biting victory in the series finale. The win was the first in the Tony Granato era as well.
But, these two programs have seemingly gone in very different directions since then. Can the top 5-ranked Badgers continue to play well away from the Resch Center and sweep a second-straight weekend? Or will the house of horrors that has been the Resch Center continue to haunt Granato’s skaters?
About Northern Michigan:
Record: 3-1-0 (2-0-0 WCHA)
Head Coach: Grant Potulny (3-1-0 at NMU and overall)
Notable: Much like the Badgers, the Wildcats are coming off a weekend sweep. Unlike the Badgers, they did it against a very good program twice. NMU took down Ferris State in the first-ever WCHA series for new head coach Grant Potulny, so taking them lightly would be a bad mistake. Ferris State had made three of the last five NCAA tournaments.
NMU Stat Leaders:
Points: Robbie Payne (6)
Goals: Robbie Payne (5)
Assists: Troy Loggins (4)
Save Pct.: Atte Tolvanen (.935)
Goals Against: Tolvanen (2.04)
Record: 4-1-0 (1-1-0 B1G)
Head Coach: Tony Granato (24-16-1 in 2nd Year at UW and overall)
Notable: Wisconsin went on the road last weekend for the first time this season and came away with a sweep of Boston College and Merrimack College. UW’s 4-1-0 start is the best by a Badgers team since a 5-0-0 start in the 2004-05 season, which ended with the Badgers losing to Michigan in the first round of the Midwest Regional of the NCAA tournament.
UW Stat Leaders:
Points: Will Johnson, Trent Frederic (5)
Goals: Tarek Baker (3)
Assists: Peter Tischke (4)
Save Pct.: Kyle Hayton (.927)
Goals Against: Hayton (2.01)
Why the Badgers continue to play this series in Green Bay is beyond me. I mean, I know why, given the optics of being able to play in-state and get in front of one of Wisconsin’s biggest youth hockey hotbeds and all. However, on the ice things haven’t gone well for Bucky. That changes this weekend for me, as Tony Granato has Wisconsin hockey playing at a very high level these days.
Northern Michigan comes in with two really good offensive players and a good goaltender. That’s a problem against a Badgers team that has proven to be deep and difficult to beat in between the pipes as well. Wisconsin has 17 goals so far this season, with 11 different players lighting the lamp.
This series also has a bit more intrigue than usual as long-standing Minnesota Gophers assistant Grant Potulny is in his first season as a collegiate head coach. He certainly knows the Badgers program well, and with a young team of his own this could be an interesting matchup. Still, that little bit of knowledge doesn’t overcome Wisconsin’s ability.
Friday: Wisconsin 5, Northern Michigan 2
Saturday: Wisconsin 3, Northern Michigan 2