Jan. 18, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- After extending its unbeaten streak to 10 games last weekend and pulling within three points of first place in the WCHA, the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team was announced as Team of the Week by Collegehockeynews.com on Thursday.
Coming off an impressive weekend series sweep over then-No. 11 Minnesota State, in which they won its first overtime road game and WCHA overtime regular-season game since Nov. 3, 2006 at Alaska Anchorage, the Badgers pulled a game above .500 for the first time this season (8-7-5).
In addition to key returnees Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) from injury and Nic Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif.) from NCAA suspension, College Hockey News accredits UW’s goaltending tandem in its sustained success. Landon Peterson (Oregon, Wis.) has played in nine games and posted a 1.93 goals-against average and .932 save percentage, while Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) has held a 1.97 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 12 games.
Contributions have come from a number of places for UW as of late. Last weekend, Ryan Little (Fond du Lac, Wis.), Jefferson Dahl (Eau Claire, Wis.) and Sean Little (Fond du Lac, Wis.) combined for three goals, six assists and nine points. Heading into the series against MSU, the trio had combined for four goals, three assists and seven points.
Though shutout last weekend, Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) still ranks third among WCHA skaters with a 0.60 goals-per-game scoring mark. With 12 goals, Mersch is tied for third in the WCHA, three goals behind league-leader Ryan Walters of Nebraska Omaha.
With 16 games remaining in the regular season -- 11 of which will be played in Madison -- the Badgers have positioned themselves to make a postseason push and battle for top tournament seeding. The defensive effort of the Badgers has given the group of an advantage thus far in WCHA play, as UW’s defense ranks No. 1 in the conference during league games, allowing 2.25 goals-per-game. UW has allowed just 14 goals in its last eight league contests.
On its longest unbeaten streak (7-0-3) since going unbeaten in 14 games (12-0-2) from Oct. 21-Dec. 3 during the 2004-05 season, UW improved to 6-1-3 on the road and 4-1-3 against ranked foes this season.
Wisconsin hosts No. 8 Miami this weekend at the Kohl Center in a key non-conference matchup. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. (CT) on Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday.