Who: #9 Wisconsin Badgers @ #12 Michigan Wolverines
Where: Yost Ice Arena
When: Friday night 6:30 EST and Saturday night 6:30 EST
TV: Friday on the BTN, Saturday on NBCSN
Michigan returns home to play Wisconsin this weekend with 2 nationally televised games. This is what we've been expecting with the emergence of B1G Hockey, lots of TV time. The Wolverines saw Wisconsin last 3 weekends ago at the Kohl Center and fared much worse than the basketball team, getting swept. It was a Murphy's law situation for Michigan that weekend. One which they hope to rectify this weekend.
It doesn't get easier this time around, as the Badgers may welcome back one of their best players from injury, Nik Kerdiles. He may or may not play, but he's traveling with the team. That's a pretty good indication that he could back.
Wisconsin v. 13-14 14-7-1 (5-3-0 B1G)
- Wisconsin split last weekend's series with Ohio State winning Friday 5-3 and dropping the Saturday contest 3-1. It should be noted that they out shot the Buckeyes 37-22 on Saturday in a losing effort. Goalies make all the difference.
- Speaking of which, Joel Rumpel is your man in the cage for the badgers. 6'3" Canadian sporting an 11-2-0 record, 92.7 Save Percentage and 1.95 GAA. Those numbers are hot, but aided by shutouts of Alabama Huntsville where he stopped 9 shots and Alaska Anchorage where he was called on for 11.
- Kerdiles coming back is bad news. He's a horse for UW. 8 G and 9 A in 15 games. 6'2 201 with a healthy pension for PIM.
- Other guys to key on are the 3 Senior Forwards leading them in scoring. Pay attention to Mike Mersch, he of the hat trick, 4 point night against Michigan in Madison. He's been quiet other than that night, failing to light the lamp in 6 of his last 7 games. However, he has 24 points in 22 games (14 G, 10 A). He plays with something named Jefferson Dahl (3g, 13A), who sounds straight out of Cape Cod or The Skulls or something.
- Mark Zengerle (3G, 21 A) and Tyler Barnes (10 G, 11 A) are the two other Senior Forwards leading the Badgers up front. They are paired together often, just like Mersch/Jeffrson Smithers Dahl IV (May or may not be his real name).
- Jake McCabe is the Badgers best D Man and probably their best player. He's represented Team USA in the WJC, he can be a pain to battle with on the boards or the rush. Very solid, with good offensive upside. Look for him to match up with Copp or Compher whenever possible for the badgers.
- JT Compher has been great lately, earning the B1G 1st star last weekend. With Copp and Compher down the middle, I'd put Michigan's centers up against anyone in the country.
- Nagelvoort looks like he'll be the guy. He was great against State last weekend. Solid work in the crease makes all the difference.
If Michigan has any hope of catching the gophers, they really need a sweep at home this weekend. The next three weekends are going to make or break their conference title hopes.