Dec 13, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT
NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers (6-5-1) host the Colorado College Tigers (2-10-3) at Kohl Center with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also catch the game online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
The road hasn’t been joyful for the Wisconsin Badgers this season. They were trounced by Boston University giving up 16 goals in two games at the start of the season. They’ve split with Miami and were swept by Minnesota.
Fortunately for them, they’re back at the friendly confines of the Kohl Center in Madison when they host Colorado College this weekend in an interconference battle.
The Badgers have gotten solid play from the guys you’d expect to do it. Senior forward Michael Mersch (Los Angeles) and sophomore Nic Kerdiles (Anaheim) lead the team in points and junior defenseman Jake McCabe (Buffalo) is right up there with them. While Mersch and Kerdiles handle the goal scoring, senior forward Mark Zengerle has been the playmaker leading the team with 11 assists.
Wisconsin has a top-heavy attack, however, with most of their points coming from those players. One area they’ll need more consistency from is in goal where juniors Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel have split time. Rumpel has been the better of the two this season, but Peterson has had two more starts.
Wisconsin able to get things turned around last weekend sweeping Penn State at home after losing three of their previous four games. Going up against a Colorado College team that’s had its share of troubles this year provides one of those classic opportunities to keep things going in the right direction.
Colorado College has had a rough start to their season, to say the least. With just two wins in their first 15 games, it’s been a brutal start for the Tigers with a schedule that’s featured some of this season’s best teams early on (Clarkson, Denver, St. Cloud, New Hampshire).
If there’s a positive lately it’s that they scored a win and a tie last weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. In a season that’s had struggles like this, it’s a veritable winning streak.
Their biggest issues this season has been the lack of offense. The team’s three leading scorers each have just seven points.
Freshmen forward Alex Roos and defenseman Jaccob Slavin (Carolina) have been positives while senior Alexander Krushelnyski (son of former King and Oiler Mike) is the other scoring leader. Freshman defenseman Gustav Olofsson (Minnesota) has had a nice start to his college career with two goals and four points.
The rest of the team? It’s been tough sledding to get goals and the goaltending from senior Josh Thorimbert has been steady but not game-saving. If the Tigers can slow down the Badgers top line, they’ll be right in the mix. Dealing with the intense crowd on the road could present them with a whole other set of issues.
Wisconsin — Forwards: Michael Mersch (SR – Kings), Nic Kerdiles (SO – Ducks), Joseph LaBate (JR – Canucks), Grant Beese (FR – Ducks), Jedd Soleway (FR – Coyotes), Brad Navin (FR – Sabres)
Defenseman: Jake McCabe (JR – Sabres), Joe Faust (SR – Devils), Eddie Witchow (SO – Panthers)
Colorado College — Forward: Hunter Fejes (SO – Coyotes)
Defense: Jaccob Slavin (FR – Hurricanes), Gustav Olofsson (FR – Wild), Aaron Harsted (JR – Jets), Peter Stoykewych (JR – Jets)
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