December 29, 2006
Badger Hockey Showdown

Kohl Center • Madison, Wis.

Holiday Tournament Preview


Friday, December 29
Lake Superior State vs. Providence, 5 p.m.
Clarkson at Wisconsin, 8 p.m.

Saturday, December 30
Lake Superior State/Providence vs. Clarkson, 5 p.m.
Lake Superior State/Providence at Wisconsin, 8 p.m.

(All times Eastern)

On TV: MyMadison TV will carry Saturday's second game live.


Northern Michigan continued its tradition of always being the bridesmaid and never the bride in this holiday clash, as Wisconsin beat the Wildcats 5-1 in the title game. It was the fourth time in the previous 13 tournaments that the Badgers had beaten Northern for the title. The Wildcats got to the finals with a 6-2 tournament-opening win over Wayne State, while Wisconsin beat Western Michigan 4-1 in round one. Wayne State rebounded to beat Western 6-3 for third place. Badger goalie Brian Elliott faced just 37 shots, total, in the two games, stopping 35 of them en route to earning MVP honors.


Notre Dame surrendered 18 goals in two games during the first Badger Hockey Showdown, held at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center in 1989. The Irish, who were in the early stages of their return to D-I hockey at the time and were playing as an independent, lost 9-3 to Wisconsin in the tournament’s second game, and fell 9-1 to Minnesota Duluth in the third-place game. The Irish defenders cut their goals-against in half in the school’s second Badger Hockey Showdown appearance, in 1995. Notre Dame upended the host Badgers 3-2 in the opener before falling 7-3 to Boston University in the title game.


Overlooked in the CCHA among all the hype about Indiana’s only college hockey team and its resurgence has been the quietly solid season that Lake State is having. The Lakers head to Madison on a 5-1-2 tear and boast the tournament’s top goalie (sorry, Badger fans) in senior Jeff Jakaitis. Clarkson features the tournament’s most prolific scorer in junior Steve Zalewski, and it appears that the Golden Knights match up well with host Wisconsin in round one. Both feature top-notch goaltending but the fact that two talented Badger forwards (Jack Skille and Blake Geoffrion) are toiling for Team USA in Sweden does not bode well for a club that’s struggled to score all season. Seemingly overmatched Providence has lost three in a row and has won just twice since Nov. 1. The Friars have scored eight goals in the two wins, and a total of eight goals in the seven losses.


Lake State looks to us like a team eager to prove it belongs in the room with the contenders. The opener is a perfect chance for the Lakers to flex some muscle versus a Providence team that brings many, many questions to the Kohl Center. As much as we respect the host Badgers historical success in their own tourney (they’ve won nine of the previous 17) we don’t see them having enough offense, especially with Skille gone, to stay with Clarkson in the second game on Friday. Look for Wisconsin to rebound on Saturday and handily beat Providence for third place. It will be an evenly-matched title game, with Clarkson’s scorers having to find a way past Jakaitis to get the crown. We don’t see that happening and can envision a few boos from Badger fans (still bitter about that controversial loss in the 1992 NCAA title game) as the Lakers hoist the trophy on Saturday.

— Jess Myers