March 11, 2010
The No. 3 Wisconsin men’s hockey team (22-9-4, 17-8-3 WCHA) will open the WCHA playoffs when it welcomes the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves (11-21-2, 9-17-2 WCHA) to the Kohl Center this weekend.
The winner of the best-of-three series will advance to the Final Five at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., March 18-20. If the Badgers advance, they will only play on Friday and Saturday. Wisconsin is 59-21-0 all-time in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
The Badgers swept the Seawolves in the teams’ only series of the season, outscoring UAA, 11-3, in the two games at the Kohl Center back in November.
In terms of standings, UW finished second in the conference with 37 points—UW’s highest league finish in the Mike Eaves coaching era. The Seawolves finished in an eighth-place tie with Minnesota State with 20 points. Because MSU holds the tie-break, UAA is the No. 9 seed for the playoffs.
The Badger squad is coming off a season-finale split against border-rival Minnesota in Minneapolis last weekend. Wisconsin won Friday’s matchup, but dropped Sunday’s game to the Gophers. However, the Badgers are one of three teams in the country to have not lost consecutive games this season (Yale and Denver).
Thus far, the Badgers’ offensive attack has been tops in the league. Powered by senior forward Michael Davies (St. Louis) and his team-high 45 points, Wisconsin boasts the second-highest scoring team in the nation with a 3.94 goals-per-game average. Davies’ line partner and sophomore forward Derek Stepan (Hastings, Minn.) has also eclipsed the 40-point mark this season with 41. Junior blueliner Brendan Smith (Mimico, Ontario) is right on his heels with 40 total points. Senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn.) leads the teams in goals with 21.
All four of these players rank among the top 11 in the WCHA in all games.
The Badgers have played host to UAA in the WCHA playoffs on three previous occasions. Heading into this weekend, UW holds a 2-1 series advantage over the Seawolves.
This will be the second time in as many years that Wisconsin hosts the opening round of the conference playoffs. UW advanced to the Final Five last year and has been to 12 of 17 overall.
Friday night’s matchup will broadcast live on TVW/Charter Extra 87/Time Warner Sports, but Saturday’s matchup will not be on live television. Fans can catch both games on a tape-delayed broadcast on Wisconsin Channel at 10 p.m. and the following day at 6 p.m. Sunday’s game (if necessary) will not be on television.
Brian Posick and Mike Cerniglia will cover the games live on the Badger Radio Network on WIBA-AM 1310 in Madison.
A rinkside blog and live stats can be followed at UWBadgers.com. Fans can also purchase a video and audio stream from the site too. Tickets for the best-of-three series are still available as well.
All of the series’ games are slated to begin at 7 p.m. at the Kohl Center.