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Wisconsin men's hockey: Badgers prepare for final home series

Following this weekend, Wisconsin will bid adieu to the Kohl Center, the place where it has earned 15 of its 17 wins this season.

Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel is having a career season for the Badgers.
Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel is having a career season for the Badgers.
Larry Radloff Photography

After a record 12-game home stand and a 15-2-1 mark at the Kohl Center, the Wisconsin men's hockey team will play its final series of the season in Madison this weekend.

The eighth-ranked Badgers (17-9-2, 8-5-1 Big Ten with 17 points) will host Michigan State (9-13-7, 3-5-6 with 12 points) this weekend to close out what has been an incredibly successful run on home ice this season.

"I know in talking to some folks around town, they're surprised that it's our last home series," head coach Mike Eaves said at his weekly press conference Tuesday. "We talked about it with the team, the fact that this is the last home series for our seniors. Let's send them off in a grand way."

One of the major reasons UW has been so successful at home has been the play of junior goaltender Joel Rumpel. The Swift Current, Saskatchewan, native has put together a 12-1-0 record at the Kohl Center this season while also posting career bests in save percentage (.933) and goals-against average (1.91).

Rumpel -- along with Minnesota's Adam Wilcox, Michigan State's Jake Hildebrand and Ohio State's Christian Frey -- is in the nation's top 11 for save percentage.

"Not off the top of my head," Eaves said when asked if he had ever seen such strong goaltender play within a conference. "I would say the goaltending, very much like the league, if you can use that word 'parity' -- they are all good."

Wisconsin fans may recognize a pair of Spartans' players this weekend when the Chelios boys hit the ice.

The sons of former UW great Chris Chelios, Jake, a defenseman, and Dean, a forward, are both seniors this year and have combined for 29 points.

"Jake is -- he plays a lot like his father," Eaves said. "He's a very aggressive young man, and you'll notice him on the ice because of that aggressiveness."

"I think Dean is a little bit more skilled at the other end. When we were looking at him, he has the ability, as someone said, to stick out inside a telephone booth. That in and of itself may be the difference between the two."

The games this weekend will have some different starting times, with Friday's game beginning at 8 p.m. CT, while the puck will drop Saturday at 4 p.m.