Wisconsin hockey series preview: Badgers wrap up non-conference slate with Alaska Anchorage

Joseph LaBate will be a focal point this weekend as he moves from wing to center. - Larry Radloff Photography

Wisconsin hosts Alaska Anchorage this weekend in the final non-conference series of the season. Both games are on Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Editor's note: I apologize for the limited preview this week. After spending two hours on the preview the first time around, I lost everything with one click of the mouse. The second attempt doesn't have as much juice, but at 4 a.m., I'm running out of patience. I promise to be better next week.

Wisconsin offense

The Badgers will once again be without the services of Nic Kerdiles, who is in Sweden with the U.S. World Junior team. While the American club was eliminated Thursday by Russia, there's very little chance Kerdiles will be available for this weekend's series.

One change in the lineup this weekend sees junior Joseph LaBate moving from wing on the Mark Zengerle line to center on the third unit between Brad Navin and Jedd Soleway. Morgan Zulinick moves up to the wing with Jefferson Dahl and Michael Mersch, while freshman Grant Besse will see top-line mintues with Zengerle and Tyler Barnes.

Another player we won't see this weekend is senior winger Sean Little, who is week-to-week with a shoulder injury suffered in practice this week. In his place, either Aidan Cavallini or Corbin McGuire will be inserted into the lineup for the first time this season.

Wisconsin defense and goaltenders

Landon Peterson will get the start in goal on Friday with Joel Rumpel most likely stepping between the pipes for the finale on Saturday. Both goaltenders played well last weekend, with Rumpel earning a shutout on Friday and Peterson stopping 18 of 20 shots Saturday.

Rumpel's shutout Friday was the eighth of his career, which ties him for fourth on Wisconsin's all-time career shutout list with Bernd Brückler (2001-05) and Shane Connelly (2005-09).

There are no changes expected with Wisconsin's defensive parings, as all six defensemen have played in every game this season. Freshman Tim Davison has yet to crack the lineup this season, and barring an injury could be in line for a potential redshirt.

Another player who could be looking at a redshirt is senior Gavin Hartzog, who came to Wisconsin as a forward but has been playing defense the past few years. Hartzog has yet to see game action as a defenseman, and with Wisconsin's thin numbers up front next season, he could be a depth player for the Badgers in 2013-14.

Anchorage offense

UAA has been much more potent offensively this year, averaging 2.83 goals per game. That may not sound like much, but it's a drastic improvement over the 1.86 it averaged last season.

The Seawolves have two pretty talented scoring lines that feature two good centers in Matt Bailey and Blake Tatchell. Bailey, a senior, has been one of UAA's more dynamic threats over his career in Anchorage and this year is no different. Bailey is second on the club in goals and points, and centers a line featuring junior Scott Allen, who leads the club in both goals and points.

UAA's second group, centered by Tatchell, can also put the puck in the net, as the sophomore teams with senior Jordan Kwas to give the Seawolves a nice secondary scoring punch.

Anchorage defense and goaltenders

Junior blueliner Austin Coldwell has been a nice offensive surprise this season for UAA, chipping in three goals and adding six assists through the first half of the year after putting up just five points as a sophomore.

Derek Docken is also a player to keep an eye on this weekend, as the junior defenseman has been known to play very physical, sometimes within the rules, sometimes outside of the rules.

Between the pipes, UAA has three goaltenders that could see action this weekend. Senior Rob Gunderson has seen the most work, playing in 12 games, but Michael Matyas and Chris Kamal split the action the last time Anchorage played, a split vs. Lake Superior State.

Special teams

Wisconsin's power play hit a new low last weekend, going 0-10 on the weekend against a very poor penalty-killing team in Alabama-Huntsville. The Badgers must find a way to be better this weekend, and it starts with puck movement. Last weekend, there was too much standing around and not enough creativity.

Anchorage ranks towards the bottom of the country in penalty kill, clearing just 79.3 percent when down a man. Wisconsin needs to find a way to get the PP back on track. Not having Kerdiles can't be used as an excuse again this time around.

By the numbers


WISCONSIN
ALASKA ANCHORAGE
RECORD
10-5-1 (2-2-0-0 Big Ten)
8-8-2 (5-7-2 WCHA)
SCORING OFFENSE
3.56/gm (8th)
2.56/gm (38th)
SCORING DEFENSE
2.81/gm (33rd)
2.83/gm (34th)
POWER PLAY
15.9% (39th) 21.5% (17th)
PENALTY KILL
83.3% (22nd)
79.3% (42nd)
PAIRWISE RANKING
No. 9
No. 35
RPI
No. 9
No. 35
KRACH
No. 12
No. 34
AVG. HEIGHT/WEIGHT
5'11.92, 190.15 pounds 5'11.69, 186.77 pounds
AVG. AGE
21 years, 10 months
22 years, 8 months

Coverage

Friday's game will be televised on Fox Sports Wisconsin while Saturday's game can be found on the Fox Sports Wisconsin alternate channel. Paul Braun and Rob Andringa will call both games on TV.

Delayed TV will be broadcast on the Wisconsin channel with Robb Vogel and Theran Welsh on the call.

Brian Posick has the radio call this weekend along with Ian Perrin on WIBA 1310 and the Badger Sports Network.

The games will be streamed online at BTN2GO.com.

Polls

Wisconsin is ranked No. 13 in the USCHO.com poll and No. 15 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

Anchorage is not ranked.

Injuries

Sean Little is week-to-week with a shoulder injury.

Last meeting

Wisconsin swept Alaska Anchorage at the Kohl Center last January, 5-2, 2-1.

Fun fact

Wisconsin owns a 15-game winning streak over Anchorage in Madison that dates back to the 2000 season.

Projected lineup

Grant Besse-Mark Zengerle-Tyler Barnes
Morgan Zulinick-Jefferson Dahl-Michael Mersch
Brad Navin-Joseph LaBate-Jedd Soleway
Matt Paape-Keegan Meuer-Aidan Cavallini/Corbin McGuire

Jake McCabe-Frankie Simonelli
Kevin Schulze-Joe Faust
Eddie Wittchow-Chase Drake

Landon Peterson
Joel Rumpel

For more hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter --
You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)

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