When most people see the no. 5 ranked team in the Nation is taking on a unranked opponent, there typically is not a lot of optimism for the unranked team. But this weekend things may be a little different as the Wisconsin Badgers(5-6-1) will travel to Colorado Springs to take on Colorado College Tigers (5-2).
The Badgers split with its rival, the no. 1 ranked Minnesota Gophers, last weekend. Winning Friday 3-1 but falling on Saturday 1-4. Following its weekend series split with the Gophers, the Badgers improved to 3-1 against teams ranked in the top 5.
For the first time this season the Badgers played with the same goalie for an entire weekend. True freshman Joel Rumpel received the start over Landon Peterson, who started at least one game in each of the first five series for the Badgers.
Sophomore forwards Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes have been scoring consistently for the Badgers as both extended their 11 game scoring streak. Barnes is having great success finding the back of the net as he leads the team with 6 goals and is in third with 13 points. Zengerle is second on the team with 15 points.
Fellow defenseman Justin Shultz’s streak ended at 10 on Saturday night when he failed to score a point, but still leads the team with 16 points. Schultz also leads the team with 12 assists, which is good for third in the nation.
CC has been the best scoring team in the nation through its first seven game, they lead the nation with 4.43 goals per game.
Experience is something the Tigers hold over the Badgers. Twenty-one of last years 25 letter winners return for the Tigers.
Of the returns junior Rylan Schwartz returns his 38 points he had last season, 10 of them goals. Rylan has been scoring at a much higher pace than last season, already finding the back of the nets seven times, good for 12th in the nation. He has also added three assists and is tied for the team league.
Rylan is joined by younger brother and returning leading scorer sophomore forward Jaden Schwartz. Jaden scored 17 goals and added 30 assists. So far the St. Louis Blues draftee is tied with Rylan with 10 points, four goals and six assists.
Senior defenseman Gabe Guentzel has been one of the best blue line players over the past three seasons. Guentzel is not a goal scorer with just 14 career goals but is one of the best setup men the team has, assisting on 61 career goals.
Junior goalie Joe Howe has 2.69 goals-against average with a .906 save percentage through six games. Both GOA and save percentage are slightly better than his career averages.
The Tigers score a lot without allowing a lot, which is why they are ranked no. 5 in the country. The Badgers have played up to it’s competition so far this season, which is both good and bad. Its success against high ranked opponents has only come at the Kohl Center but I expect a split for the young Badgers with Rumpel in the net for both games.