February 9, 2006
Badgers Go Outside, But Focus On What's Inside

By Jess Myers

WCHA Notebook

Center Adam Burish may join goaltender Brian Elliott on Wisconsin's injured list this weekend.

National TV Schedule

The bus ride from the University of Wisconsin's campus in Madison to Lambeau Field in Green Bay takes a little more than two hours, meaning it'd be easy for the Badgers to head up there Saturday morning and arrive in plenty of time for their 3 p.m. tilt with Ohio State at the home of the Packers. But just to be safe and to get a head start on the fun, the Badgers made the trek late Thursday evening.

With his team having lost five of its last six and clinging to a two-point lead in the WCHA standings, it would be easy for Badgers coach Mike Eaves to view the neutral-site outdoor game to benefit the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as a distraction, but that's not the approach he's taking.

"There's no hesitation on our part because this is a life experience," Eaves said. "We look at the big picture of one day being able to tell our kids and our grandkids about playing in this game. This will be a positive energizer for our team."

In addition to the game on Saturday, which is expected to have an audience of roughly 40,000, there is a pre-game banquet that will feature 14-season NHL veteran Dennis Hull as a keynote speaker. Eaves said that between the Lambeau event and the NCAA Regional to be held there next month, there should be a big boost for the hockey community in football-crazy Green Bay.

"People outside of Green Bay don't understand how long there has been successful pro and amateur hockey there and how active the hockey community has been," Eaves said. "Green Bay has really done this event first class."

As for the product he's putting on the ice versus the Buckeyes, Eaves acknowledged that his team is still trying to weather a big storm. After a knee injury suffered in practice this week, senior center Adam Burish may join goaltender Brian Elliott on the injured list this weekend.

"If you're not on the inside and you don't see what goes on in our locker room, you might say, 'They're done, they're toast,'" Eaves said. "We're definitely persevering through some tough times, but we're going to get an important member of our team back soon and go from there."

The Badgers snapped a four-game skid last Friday, winning 7-2 in Duluth before falling 4-1 in the series finale.

"Saturday night was shame on us," Eaves said. "We fell into that human nature trap of feeling good about ourselves."

Weather forecasts this weekend have varied, with some predicting 40s and wet snow while others calling for colder weather. Eaves said he believes the latter and is looking forward to coaching with mittens and a red parka on.

"I heard it's going to be 22 with gusty winds," he said. "It's going to be perfect."


Hold That Tiger: Colorado College has lost five of its last six heading into this weekend's series at St. Cloud State, while the Huskies have won six in a row. That has the Tigers looking up at the Huskies in the race for home ice in the playoffs. But while some think that this is the perfect time for Bob Motzko's club to play CC and put the Tigers behind them, the coach sees it differently.

"I see it just the opposite. I think this is the most dangerous time to play them," Motzko said. "Brett Sterling's gone a few games without a goal, but he's not going to not score. You're eventually going to run out of weeks that you can say you kept him from scoring."

Great Weekend Getaway
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Minnesota at Michigan Tech (Fri.)
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (Sat.)
It will require a tank of gas, and possibly some snow tires, but adventuresome college hockey fans can catch two unique games in less than 24 hours this weekend. Start in Houghton on Friday for the opening game of Michigan Tech's annual Winter Carnival series versus Minnesota. After a night of snow sculpture-related revelry (and hopefully some sleep) hop in the car for the 210-mile trek to Green Bay for the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic at Lambeau Field between Wisconsin and Ohio State. The forecasts vary, but they all call for one thing -- cold. Bundle up.

While You’re There: Ever wondered what Bart Simpson would look like if he were carved out of snow? You can find out this weekend at Michigan Tech, as the school celebrates its annual and renowned Winter Carnival. Elaborate snow sculptures centered on the theme "Cartoon Art for the Young at Heart" have been under construction all week. If you're not making the trip and want a look at the goings-on anyway, check out the school's live web cams

Stick Salute

In Grand Forks, "Youthquake '06" continues. Last Friday the Sioux posted a rare win at Colorado Springs World Arena, with freshmen Jonathon Toews, T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan scoring three of the team's four goals. Since winning a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Juniors, Toews has had a hot hand for North Dakota, and heads into their final weekend off of the season with three goals in his team's last five games.

Bench Minor

While we'll applaud Minnesota Duluth for its 4-1 win last Saturday, what happened in the final 40 minutes of the Friday night contest with Wisconsin was painful to watch. The Bulldogs trailed 2-1 after one period, and heard famous alum Brett Hull implore them to "kick some Badger butt!" in the conclusion of his number retirement ceremony speech. Instead, the Bulldogs allowed five goals on Wisconsin's final 19 shots in an embarrassing 7-2 loss. Ouch.

The Huskies have moved into the upper half of the WCHA standings via their three consecutive sweeps of WCHA series. That's a feat the Huskies haven't accomplished since November 2001, when players like Hartigan, DiCasmirro and Malone were leading the way. As opposed to that superstar system, the key for the Huskies in Motzko's first campaign has been consistency.

"Our goal, as it has been from the start, is still to get points every weekend, keep getting better and stay off the rollercoaster," said Motzko. "If you do that, you feel pretty good about yourself when you get back to work on Monday."

It's worth noting that the only time this season that the Huskies have been swept in a WCHA series was at Colorado College in early November, so this weekend provides the team with a chance at revenge.

"CC is one of the elite teams in the country, so this should be a great test to see where we're at right now," Motzko said. "We're going to see if we've closed the gap at all."

As for the notion that with six wins in a row, the Huskies are peaking too soon, Motzko laughed and recalled predictions that his team would finish in the WCHA cellar.

"I don't think anyone thought we were going to peak at all," Motzko said, with a chuckle. "So this may have blindsided us as much as anyone. Now we're in the hunt. I don't know for what, but we're definitely in the hunt."


• In a bit of an unexpected move, Minnesota backup goaltender Jeff Frazee did not accompany the team on its trip to Houghton for the Winter Carnival series versus Michigan Tech. Frazee, a freshman who has started nine games and is 4-2-2 thus far, was one of the most highly recruited goalies in the nation last season while playing for the USNTDP team in Ann Arbor. Frazee was left home for academic reasons, and third-stringer Brett Solei will serve as Kellen Brigg' backup this weekend.

• It was feast, then famine for Minnesota State Mankato goaltender Dan Tormey during last weekend's home split with Michigan Tech. On Friday the rookie collected his second career shutout, blanking the Huskies, 4-0, with 26 saves. The next night was one of his more forgettable outings as a collegian when Tech scored three goals on just 13 shots to beat the Mavericks, 3-2.

• Although it came to an end with Saturday's 3-2 win over North Dakota, the five-game losing streak endured by Colorado College is a bad sign for Tiger fans hoping to stay home for the playoffs. The last time the Tigers lost five in a row, in the 2003-04 season, marked the only time in the past dozen years that the Tigers have worn the dark sweaters in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. They went to Denver that year, and upset the Pioneers in two games.

• Here's a stat that doesn't look right: heading into this weekend's series between the Pioneers and Mavericks at Magness Arena, Minnesota State Mankato leads the all time series with Denver 11-10-3. Even the past two seasons, while the Pioneers were winning back-to-back NCAA titles, they struggled to beat the Mavericks, and earlier this season the Mavericks won and tied in Mankato.

• It's bad news, then worse news for Alaska Anchorage fans. Since beating North Dakota 5-3 on Jan. 6, the Seawolves have suffered a season-worst nine-game winless streak (0-7-2) and are 0-4 since starting goaltender Nathan Lawson went down with a knee injury in their 3-2 home loss to Denver on Jan. 27. They are off this weekend before heading to Colorado College for a series on Feb. 17-18.

A variety of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.