Sixth-seeded Wisconsin (4-25-5, 2-15-3-2 Big Ten) opens the 2015 Big Ten Tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit against third-seeded Michigan (20-14-0, 12-8-0 Big Ten) on Thursday at 7 p.m. CT in the quarterfinals.
The winner advances to play second-seeded Michigan State (17-15-2, 11-7-2 Big Ten) on Friday in the semifinals at 7 p.m. CT. The championship game takes place Saturday at 7 p.m. CT. The entire tournament airs live on BTN.
Game 35 | Wisconsin (4-25-5, 2-15-3-2 Big Ten) vs. Michigan (20-14-0, 12-8-0-0 Big Ten)
Game Notes Complete men's hockey game notes in printable PDF format.
MICH Last Meeting:L, 5-2 -- On Feb. 28 at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Grant Besse scored at 19:31 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2, but Michigan's JT Compher scored a power-play goal 8:01 into the third period, one of his three goals in the game, to help the Wolverines to a 5-2 victory. Compher clinched his hat trick and the game with an empty-net tally. UW's Ryan Wagner scored to give UW the lead in the first period, while goaltender Joel Rumpel made 29 saves. The Badgers were blanked, 3-0, the night before, with Rumpel stopping 31 shots. The game was scoreless after the first period, before Michigan scored power-play goals in the second and third periods, then added an empty-net tally to seal the win.
MICH Series Notes:The teams meet for the 133rd time ... UW is 7-10-2 against Michigan under head coach Mike Eaves, meeting the Wolverines for the first time in Detroit under Eaves and the first time since 1996 ... Wisconsin is 3-0 all-time against Michigan in conference playoff games, winning 4-3 and 7-4 on March 16-17, 1977 in the finals series, and claiming a 2-1 victory in Denver on March 13, 1970, in the first round of the WCHA West Regional ... UW and Michigan last met in the postseason on March 25, 2005 in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a 4-1 victory for Michigan in Grand Rapids, Michigan ... the last Badger to hail from Michigan was Temperance, Michigan native, defenseman Jon Krall, who played for the Badgers from 2000-04 ... UW head coach Mike Eaves' brother Murray played for Michigan (1978-80).
KEY NOTES TO CONSIDER Wisconsin enters the tournament holding consecutive tournament titles, including last year's inaugural Big Ten tournament, which was held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Badgers are one of three teams that entered this postseason as two-time defending conference tournament winners, with Union (ECAC) and UMass Lowell (Hockey East) both winning conference tournaments in 2013 and 2014. Union has been eliminated from the ECAC tournament this season.
Last year, UW defeated Penn State in the semifinals, 2-1, before overcoming a 4-2, third-period deficit for a 5-4 overtime victory over Ohio State for the title.
The Badgers own a seven-game conference tournament win streak, with two victories last year in the Big Ten tournament and five the year before during the WCHA tournament. That is tied for the second-longest such streak in school history. The Badgers won 12 consecutive conference tourney contests between March 9, 1977 and March 7, 1979 to set the standard. UW also won seven conference tourney games from March 6, 1989 through March 3, 1991.
In 2013, the Badgers won three games in three days at the WCHA Final Five to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. UW opened with a 7-2 victory over Minnesota State, captured a 4-1 victory over St. Cloud State, then beat Colorado College, 3-2, to win the title.
UW placed sixth and last in the Big Ten regular season this year. The RIT women's hockey team also placed sixth and last in College Hockey America, then upset third-seeded Robert Morris in the quarterfinals of the CHA playoffs, before knocking off top-seeded Mercyhurst and second-seeded Syracuse to earn the league's automatic NCAA bid.
The Badgers have made the NCAA tournament once before with a losing record. UW qualified as an at-large team during the 2007-08 tournament after going 15-16-7. The Badgers were a four seed and happened to be the host school for a regional at the Kohl Center in Madison. The Badgers upset top-seeded Denver, 6-2, in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and led North Dakota, 2-0, through two periods, but fell to UND in overtime, 3-2, in the regional finals.
The Badgers enter the week as one of 31 schools in the country still alive to make the NCAA tournament. Twenty-eight teams were eliminated over the past two weekends after getting knocked out of their conference tournaments and sitting too far down in the NCAA pairwise rankings to earn at-large consideration for a bid. The pairwise rankings mimic the NCAA selection process.
The Badgers are 5-4-0 all-time playing at Joe Louis Arena, and 9-7-1 skating games in Detroit. Two of Wisconsin's six NCAA titles have been won in Detroit, including the 1977 championship in which UW beat Michigan, 6-5 in overtime, at Olympia Stadium. Current UW head coach Mike Eaves had three assists in the game, including the primary helper on the overtime game-winning goal.
UW won the 1990 NCAA title at Joe Louis Arena with a 7-3 victory over Colgate, with current UW assistant coach Gary Shuchuk scoring a goal.
The Badgers also reached the 2010 NCAA Championship Game held at Ford Field after an 8-1 victory over RIT in the semifinals. UW trailed Boston College, 1-0, after two periods in the title game, but lost current New York Ranger forward Derek Stepan to an injury and then the game, 5-0.
UW's most recent game at Joe Louis Arena was Nov. 30, 1996, an 8-4 loss to Michigan in the now-defunct College Hockey Showcase.
Senior goaltender Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) is nearing the end of his UW career and is poised to finish among the top goaltenders in Badgers' history. Already second on UW's career shutout list with 10, he currently ranks second with a .919 save percentage and fifth with a 2.49 goals-against average. His 53 career victories also rank fifth.
Rumpel has 3,153 career saves, which ranks fourth in UW history, while his 114 games played are tied for fourth at Wisconsin.
Senior goaltender Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) ranks fourth in the nation with an average of 31.17 saves per game. Rumpel has made at least 30 saves in 17 games this season. He had eight games with at least 30 saves all of last year in 29 appearances. He also has six games with at least 40 saves this season after having just one all of last season and two for his career prior to the start of the 2014-15 campaign. He had nine games of 30+ saves during both the 2012-13 (29 GP) and 2011-12 (26 GP) seasons.
UW SINGLE-SEASON SAVES/GAME
Rumpel has allowed two goals or less in five of his last eight games and now has a total of 57 career games allowing two goals or less. Rumpel has played nine games this season allowing two goals or less, 17 last season, 20 as a sophomore and 11 as a rookie. Former Badger and current St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott played 61 games at Wisconsin allowing two goals or less. Rumpel has played 114 contests, while Elliott played 86 games.
Rumpel has 783 saves on 863 shots faced over the last 22 games he's finished. He has averaged 35.6 saves on 39.23 shots against during the stretch.
Rumpel had started 24 consecutive games for the Badgers, the longest such stretch of his career, before Landon Peterson made the first of two consecutive starts on March 7 at Michigan State. Rumpel started the final 21 game last season for his longest prior start streak.
The streak for Rumpel was the longest for a Badger since Shane Connelly started the last 30 games of the 2008-09 season in goal. Prior to that, the longest such streak was Brian Elliott starting the first 22 games of the 2005-06 season.
Senior forward Brad Navin (Waupaca, Wisconsin) scored both goals in UW's 2-2 tie last Friday against Ohio State. The goals were the second and the third of the season for Navin, who scored for the first time in 28 games, dating back to Oct. 18 against Northern Michigan at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The two-goal performance marked the first multi-goal game of Navin's career, while his second goal of the game was also his first career game-tying tally. The first goal of the game for Navin was his first power-play goal of the season and the third of his career.
Navin has three goals and eight points in 34 games this season, while boasting 11 goals and 27 points in 140 games played for Wisconsin.
Navin, along with senior forward Joseph LaBate (Eagan, Minnesota) and freshman forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) combined on both UW goals last weekend, with each reading Navin from LaBate and Rockwood. It was the fifth multi-point game of the season for LaBate and the team-leading 14th of his career, while it marked Rockwood's third of the season, which ranks third on the team.
Sophomore forward Grant Besse (Plymouth, Minnesota) missed the last three games after blocking a shot on Friday, March 6 at Michigan State.
Besse leads the Badgers in goals (11) and points (22). He also led the team in Big Ten play in goals (eight) and points (15).
Besse is one assist shy of the team lead. No Badger has led the team in goals, assists and points in the same season since Rene Bourque did so during the 2003-04 campaign with 16 goals, 20 assists and 36 points. It has been done five previous times, including Bourque; Dany Heatley with 24 goals, 33 assists and 57 points in 2000-01; Brad Englehart with 17 goals, 19 assists and 36 points in 1996-97; Chuck Kenney with 13 goals (tie), 14 assists and 27 points in 1965-66 and Ron Leszcynski with 16 goals, 18 assists and 34 points in 1963-64.
Besse had eight goals and 14 points in 36 games played as a freshman.
Wisconsin only has two seniors and one junior among its top 11 scorers, with senior Joseph LaBate (Eagan, Minnesota) ranking second on the team with six goals and 18 points, junior defenseman Kevin Schulze (White Bear Lake, Minnesota) sixth on the team with 11 points and senior forward Brad Navin (Waupaca, Wisconsin) tied for ninth with eight points. There are three sophomores and five freshmen among UW's top 11 scorers.
UW's special teams posted its third positive weekend of the season last weekend against Ohio State, going 1-for-7 on the power play, and killing all seven OSU power plays, including a five-minute major. UW also had positive weekends at Ohio State (Feb. 13-14), going 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, as well as Nov. 28-29 against Ferris State, going 2-for-6 on the power play and 7-for-7 on the penalty kill. UW is 2-2-2 in those six games.
The Badgers have also gone even on special teams on three weekends, including twice against Minnesota (Jan. 16-17 and Jan. 30-31) and once against Michigan (Jan. 23-24).
UW's power play ended a six-game, goal-scoring drought when Brad Navin connected last Friday against Ohio State. UW went 21 power plays between goals. It also marked the second power-play tally in what is now the last 12 games for the Badgers. UW sits at 2-for-39 on the power play over its last 12 contests.
The Badgers are 15-for-123 (12.2 percent) on the power play for the season to rank 50th out of 59 teams in the country.
UW's penalty kill was perfect last weekend, ending a four-game stretch during which UW allowed seven power-play goals, including three games with two power-play goals allowed. The Badgers killed all seven of their penalties last weekend, including a five-minute major last Saturday. The Badgers are 3-7-3 when having a perfect night on the kill.
UW is 1-18-2 when allowing at least one power-play goal in a game, with UW getting its lone victory on Feb. 20 against Michigan State when allowing a power-play tally.
UW sits at 74.6 percent (94-for-125), which ranks 57th in the NCAA, up from last prior to last weekend.
Wisconsin has been shutout in five of its last seven games. The Badgers have been blanked eight times this season, the most in program history. The modern-era record (since 1963) was five set in 2006-07.
Wisconsin dropped its 25th game last Saturday, breaking the record for most losses in a season. The 1975-76 team posted 24 losses, for the previous program high. Head coach Mike Eaves was a sophomore on the 1975-76. He was a junior the following season when UW won its second of six NCAA titles.
UW led the Big Ten with 12.4 penalty minutes per game in league action and leads among Big Ten schools in all games at 11.2 penalty minutes per game.
Those penalty numbers are relatively low nationally, ranking in 28th in penalty minutes per game.
The Badgers have five players who have skated in 100 career games, led by Seniors Joseph LaBate (149), Brad Navin (140), Matt Paape (122) and Joel Rumpel (114). Junior Kevin Schulze (112) also belongs to the club.
LaBate has skated in all but one UW game during his career, missing a game as a healthy scratch early in his sophomore season.
UW had 11 Badgers with 100 career games played last season and eight on the 2012-13 team who skated in 100 career games. The 2011-12 squad finished the season with just two skaters who played in at least 100 career games.
Junior defenseman Kevin Schulze (White Bear Lake, Minnesota) leads the nation with an average of 2.68 blocks per game, 0.13 shots-per-game better than Bemidji State's senior defenseman Sam Windle (2.55). Schulze's 91 blocks are six shy of Windle's national lead.
As a team, UW ranks ninth in the country with an average of 14.94 blocks per game.
Sophomore forward Jedd Soleway ranks 14th in the country in faceoff win percentage at .586. Soleway is 174-123 on faceoffs this season after going 7-10 last weekend on faceoffs. Clarkson freshman Ben Dalpe leads the nation with a .642 faceoff win percentage (97-54).
A total of 11 Badgers have made their collegiate debuts this season. Three UW freshmen--forward Alex Shuchuk, defenseman Jake Bunz and goaltender Gabe Grunwald-- have yet to see game action.
Ten Badger freshmen played in UW's game on Oct. 11 at Alaska Anchorage (Tim Davison, Matt Ustaski, Keegan Ford, Cameron Hughes, Jake Linhart, Ryan Wagner, Jack Dougherty, Jason Ford, Corbin McGuire, Adam Rockwood), the most freshmen in a game for Wisconsin since Jan. 18, 2004, when 10 Badgers skated for UW in a 3-1 loss to Notre Dame at the Kohl Center (Brian Elliott, Matt Olinger, Ryan Suter, Jeff Likens, Jake Dowell, Andy Brandt, Robbie Earl, Andrew Joudrey, Mark Heatley, Ross Carlson). UW skated with 10 freshmen on Nov. 22 at Denver.
The Badgers began the season with just 13 of their 26 players having seen collegiate action. Three of the 13 were goaltenders, leaving UW with 10 experienced skaters.
The 10 had combined for 59 goals, 117 assists and 176 points in 631 career games played entering the year, and went scoreless over the first weekend of the season.
2014 Second-Team All-American forward Michael Mersch wrapped up his four-year career at Wisconsin last spring with 67 career goals in 157 games played, while Mark Zengerle completed his four years at UW last spring with 162 points in 151 games played.
UW head coach Mike Eaves left campus after his playing days with 94 goals and 267 points in 160 games played.
UW's freshman class included 11 newcomers and two redshirts. The 11 true freshmen matched the 2003-04 team for the most rookies during the Mike Eaves coaching era (2002-present) and the second-most ever listed on a UW preseason roster. Only the 15-member 1974-75 Wisconsin freshman class, that happened to include Mike Eaves, has been larger. That team finished 24-12-2 and with a 19-11-2 WCHA mark to place fourth in the league.
Head coach Mike Eaves coached his 500th game at Wisconsin on Dec. 6 against Penn State. Recent U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jeff Sauer coached in 841 games at Wisconsin, while Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Johnson directed UW for 565 contests.
All three Wisconsin coaches are NCAA champions as players for the Badgers. Head Coach Mike Eaves won the 1977 title, while assistant coach Gary Shuchuk won the 1990 NCAA crown and assistant coach Matt Walsh won the 1983 championship.
This marks the first time in the modern era of Badger hockey that all three Badger coaches are UW alumni.
Former Badger Craig Smith scored his 20th goal of the season two weeks ago for the Nashville Predators giving UW two 20-goal scorers in the NHL (Joe Pavelski), and making it six consecutive non-lockout seasons that at least two Badgers have reached the 20-goal mark.
Wisconsin signed six recruits during the early signing period, including...
Green Bay, Wis.
Sioux City (USHL)
Wisconsin freshman defenseman Jack Dougherty was chosen as one of 30 players named to the U.S. National Junior Team camp roster. The team competed at the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, which ran from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec and Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Camp began Dec. 16 at Boston University's Walter Brown Arena, but Dougherty was let go before the final roster was named. Former Badger player and assistant coach Mark Osiecki was Team USA head coach, while former Badger Don Granato and former UW assistant coach Kevin Patrick were assistant coaches. Also, former Badger Jim Johannson served as the team's general manager.
Former Wisconsin head coach Jeff Sauer (1982-2002), the winningest with 489 victories at UW, and former Badger defenseman Brian Rafalski (1991-95) were officially inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Dec. 4 in a ceremony held in Minnesota.
They joined Chris Chelios, Gary Suter, Mike Richter, Mark Johnson, Bob Suter (as part of 1980 Olympic Team) and Bob Johnson as Badgers in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
UP NEXT Should the Badgers win the Big Ten tournament, they will play in the NCAA Regionals, which take place March 27-29 at four sites.