After coming off a sweep of then #5 North Dakota, the Badgers will face a very similar team in the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks in a two game weekend series at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Similar to the Badgers, the Mavericks are riding a wave of confidence after sweeping its latest opponent in the University of Alaska-Anchorage, outscoring them by a combined total of 7-2.
The Badgers got two very impressive wins this past weekend, even when not playing its best hockey. Forward Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes have both been improving and are a big reason why the Badgers had success against UND. Zengerle scored and assisted on another, while Barnes added two assists. Defenseman Justin Schultz has also been getting in on the action scoring and assisting in Friday night’s 5-3 win.
Saturday night, Zengerle added another goal, while both Schultz and Barnes had an assist. Forward Ryan Little scored three points in Saturday’s 5-4 win, with a goal and two assists. Zengerle, Schultz and Barnes are all tied for second in the WCHA in points-per-game with 1.25.
Goaltender Joel Rumpel was honored by the WCHA this week as the WCHA Rookie of the Week. Rumpel had a career-high 38 saves in Saturday night’s victory. It was the first WCHA honor for the Badgers this season.
The Mavericks sit at 4-3-0 and look to continue its winning ways against the Badgers. The Mavericks are lead offensively by sophomore forward Matt White. As a true freshman White registered 25 points, finding the back of the net for 14 of those points (7 goals). This year he has started out equally as impressive scoring two goals and assisting on five others for 9 points on the year. Before coming to the Mavericks White was named Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year by USA Hockey and was also named USHL Player of the Year after finishing second in the league with 82 points.
The Badgers must also keep an eye on junior forward Terry Broadhurst. He leads the team with four goals thus far and has assisted on two more. As a sophomore Broadhurst scored 11 goals and assisted on 19 others.
Head Coach Mike Eaves said in Monday’s press conference that this is a very similar team style wise that they saw in UND last weekend, which should help preparation for the Mavericks.
One concern for this young Badgers team is how they play to its competition. They struggled against unranked teams in Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech, but against the ranked team the Badgers played like a group of veterans constantly attacking and shaking off goals against UND. It’s still hard to see what can come from this young Badgers team but for everyone who watched last weekend’s series, you can see they have the talent to be good this year and next year.
This week I decided I will not make any projections. Over the past three weekends, I have one correct. So this week let’s just all hope for some more Badgers’ wins.