North Dakota vs. Wisconsin, Series Preview

This weekend, the University of North Dakota travels east to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in an important two-game non-conference series at the Kohl Center.

Coming into this series, the Wisconsin Badgers should be well rested. The Badgers haven’t played a game since October 18, 2014.

Derek StepanTough Start for the Badgers

The Badgers have a dismal 0-4-0 (0.00) record and are off to a rough start. Coming into this weekend’s series, the Badgers are averaging 0.75 goals per game and giving up 2.75 goals against.

According to Badgers head coach Mike Eaves, he’s happy this series is at home this weekend.

“I’m glad it’s not in North Dakota,” head coach Mike Eaves said this week. “I think that would be a real jumping into the deep end, probably jumping off a 10 meter board into the deep end it would be more like if we were playing there.”

Series history

All-time, UND is 66-86-12 (.439) against the Badgers. UND hasn’t played the Badgers in Madison, WI, since November 20-21, 2011, when the Badgers swept UND (3-5 L, 4-5 L).  In Grand Forks, ND, UND is 33-36-9 (.481) against the Badgers. In Madison, WI, UND is 27-46-3 (.375) against the Badgers. At neutral sites, UND is 6-4-0 (.600) against the Badgers.

Under head coach Dave Hakstol, UND has a 14-14-3 (.500) record against the Badgers. In the last five games against the Badgers, UND has a 4-0-1 (.900) record and has outscored the Badgers 24-9. Four of those five games were played in Grand Forks, ND.

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Tale of the tape

#2 North Dakota (5-1-1, 2-0-0 NCHC) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (0-4-0, 0-0-0 B1G) .
Date: November 7-8, 2014.
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. CT, both nights.
Location: Kohl Center, Madison, WI.
Last time out: Wisconsin was swept by Northern Michigan (0-2 L, 1-4 L)
Last time out: UND beat Air Force Academy 3-2 in O.T.
Television: Midco Sports Net (Saturday night only).
Live Streaming: BTN2Go.com, BTN2Go App.

Key Players to Watch

North Dakota – Forwards: Drake Caggiula (2g-6a—8pts), Nick Schmaltz (1g-6a—7pts), Michael Parks (1g-6a—7pts), Defense: Paul LaDue (3g-4a—7pts), Troy Stecher (0g-6a—6pts) Jordan Schmaltz (1g-3a—4pts), Tucker Poolman (3g-0a—3pts). Goalies: Zane McIntyre (5-1-1, 1.92 GAA, .931 SV%), Cam Johnson (0-0-0, 2.68 GAA, .800 SV%).

UND Injuries: Mark MacMillan (5g-2a—7pts), out indefinitely.

Wisconsin – Forwards: Ryan Wagner (0g-2a—2pts), Cameron Hughes (0g-1a—1pts), Joseph LaBate (0g-0a—0pts) Defense: Jake Linhart (0g-1a—1pts), Tim Davison (1g-0a—1pts). Goalies: Landon Peterson (0-1-0, 1.02 GAA, .968 SV%), Joel Rumpel (0-2-0, 3.07 GAA, .854 SV%).

Special teams

Wisconsin – The Badgers penalty kill is ranked 56th in the nation (8/11, 72.7.0%). The Badgers power play is ranked 55th in the nation (0/18, 0.0%).

North Dakota – UND’s penalty kill is ranked 20th in the nation (35/40, 87.5%). UND’s power play is ranked 11th in the nation (9/40, 22.5%).

Series prediction

Wisconsin is hard place to play for UND.

“It’s fun building to play in, but it’s a tough building to go into and play in,” Hakstol said. “We’re going to go in there, in their home opener and we’ll get back to an old WCHA rival. It should be a competitive series for both teams.”

My prediction for this weekend, I am going with a series split, Friday UND 5-1, Wisconsin 3-2.