St. Cloud State Preview

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All around the world
We could make time
Rompin' and a stompin'
'Cause I'm in my prime

Red Hot Chili Peppers-All Around the World

The Wisconsin men's hockey team is back on the road for their second road series of the season. This weekend the boys will be making the trek to St. Cloud to take on the Huskies in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association match up.

Last weekend the Badgers split with Nebraska-Omaha, losing on Friday night 5-4, and bouncing back on Saturday to earn the split with a 6-3 victory.

St. Cloud was on the road last weekend at North Dakota without the services of star goaltender Mike Lee. The Huskies rallied behind freshman net-minder Ryan Faragher who stopped 67 out of 70 shots on the weekend including all 44 he saw on Friday night in a 4-0 SCSU win. UND rallied on Saturday to beat St. Cloud 3-1.

BADGER OFFENSE

Badger bench boss Mike Eaves has noted on a number of occasions this season that without a dominant forward like Craig Smith on the roster, Wisconsin is going to have to accumulate scoring from a variety of different sources. So far so good through the first month of the season.

Last weekend 8 of the Badgers 11 goals came from different players. The weekend prior when North Dakota was in town, 9 different Badgers lit the lamp. 14 players on the Wisconsin roster have recorded goals this season. If Wisconsin is to have continued success this weekend, they will have to find scoring once again from multiple players.

The Badgers will be without the services of Derek Lee this weekend. The junior was centering the second line and was also a major presence on the power play and penalty kill units. Last weekend Keegan Meuer was given an opportunity to take some of his minutes and did an admirable job. Sophomore Center Jefferson Dahl could also see an expanded role this weekend.

The Badgers top line of Joseph LaBate, Mark Zengerle, and Tyler Barnes continues to put points on the board. Zengerle and Barnes have seven game point streaks going and LaBate has made an immediate impact as a freshman. Zengerle was named the Inside College Hockey national player of the week for his performance (2g, 3a) last weekend vs Nebraska-Omaha.

BADGER DEFENSE & GOALIES

Without the services of Jake McCabe last weekend, Eaves changed up his defense pairs. Sophomore Frankie Simonelli was the biggest benefactor, as he was paired with All-American Justin Schultz on the top pairing. Simonelli rewarded the coaching staff with a solid weekend on both ends of the ice. Simonelli finished the weekend with four points including three in the win on Saturday that was highlighted with a power play goal.

McCabe isn't expected back for a few weeks so the Badgers will have to continue to look for depth on the back end. Patrick Daly was inserted into the lineup last weekend and struggled on Friday night. Saturday night the coaching staff gave sophomore Chase Drake an opportunity. It was Drake's first game as a Badger and he looked like he belonged, making good, hard, quick passes and playing solid defensively.

In goal you can expect the Badgers to continue the freshman rotation of Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel. Peterson has been playing the Friday night games and Rumpel on Saturday and that won't change in St. Cloud. Rumpel has looked a hair better so far but both goaltenders have played solid for the Badgers.

HUSKY OFFENSE

The Huskies lost Garrett Roe, who seemed like he was in the WCHA for 10 years to graduation finally. Don't be fooled though, St. Cloud still has plenty of offense to go around. SCSU's top line of Cam Reid, Drew LeBlanc, and Jared Festler has been impressive early this season.

What makes the Huskies tough to play against is that they've got a second line that rivals most teams top unit. The line of Ben Hanowski, Nic Dowd, and David Eddy brings speed, skill, and grit that gives teams fits. Eddy has yet to get things going early this season but was a force in the second half for the Huskies last season averaging a point per game.

Looking further down the lineup, keep an eye out for Travis Novak. The senior forward is second on the team in goals scored and is one of the best skaters you'll ever see. He's a treat to watch getting up and down the ice and his speed presents problems for opposing teams power plays. Novak has 4 career short handed goals including one already this season.

HUSKY DEFENSE & GOALIES

While SCSU lost Oliver Lauridsen, Brett Barta, and Chris Hepp on the blue-line, the Huskies seem to be improved defensively this season. Nick Jensen has taken another step in his second season in the WCHA and is one of the best defensemen in the league.

The Huskies brought in three freshmen defensemen in Jarrod Rabey, Andrew Proncho, and Tim Daly. Rabey and Proncho have been every night players for the Huskies and have been impressive early. Both handle the puck well and like to jump up in the play. Rabey is a hulking presence at 6'1, 238 but plays more of a finesse game.

As I mentioned in the open, starting goaltender Mike Lee has a knee injury and missed last weekend. He will also miss this series against the Badgers but the Huskies look to have a capable replacement. By all accounts, Ryan Faragher looked phenomenal between the pipes last weekend and is looking for continued success against the Badgers.

COVERAGE

Both games will be televised on Charter Extra Channel 87. Friday night you can find the game on the radio at 1310 AM and Saturday on 1070 AM. There is a video stream ($) that you can find at americaone.com

POLLS

Wisconsin and St. Cloud are both receiving votes in the USCHO.com poll but were left unranked by USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine.

INJURIES

The Badgers will be without Jake McCabe and Derek Lee who are both suffering from freak injuries where they were cut by a skate.

St. Cloud will be without starting goalie Mike Lee who is out with a knee injury and possibly defenseman Taylor Johnson (illness).

LAST MEETING

St. Cloud swept Wisconsin 4-2, 7-3 at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud last season. Wisconsin holds the all time advantage 42-28-8. The Badgers are 15-16-4 playing in St. Cloud.

FUN FACT

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves, who was born in Denver, scored more goals in the NHL (83), than any other player born in the state of Colorado. Gary Suter (203) holds the record for most NHL goals scored by a Wisconsin born player.

PREDICTION

Don't think for a second that the returning Badgers have forgot the embarrassment they felt getting swept at St. Cloud last year. St. Cloud dominated Wisconsin up and down the ice and on the scoreboard. Wisconsin is still looking for their first road win and I expect them to play inspired this weekend against the Huskies.

I think Friday night the Badgers run the Huskies around the rink and put up a big number on their freshman goalie. Saturday night I see SCSU bouncing back and getting the split.

Friday: Wisconsin 5, St. Cloud 2

Saturday: St. Cloud 4, Wisconsin 3

Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!

For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Chuck on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz)

Chuck can also be reached via e-mail at chuckschwartz@live.com

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