April 9, 2010
Friday Practice and Interviews
DETROIT--After the Badgers ousted RIT, 8-1, in the NCAA National Semifinal game Thursday evening, Wisconsin (28-10-4) finds itself in the national title game Saturday at 6 p.m. CT, where the squad will square off against the Boston College Eagles (28-10-3).
In Wisconsin's semifinal game, seven different Badgers tallied a goal, and junior blueliner Brendan Smith (Mimico, Ontario) tied a tournament record by notching five assists. The Badgers were firing on all cylinders in the game, having outshot RIT, 37-14, at game's end. Wisconsin also capitalized on nearly half of its power-play opportunities.
Defensively, junior net minder Scott Gudmandson (Sherwood Park, Alberta) was a star in the nets for Wisconsin. Turning away all but one RIT attempt, his record climbed to 20-4-4 on the season to lead the Cardinal and White. As a team, the Badgers were relentless on defense, as they only allowed eight shots in the final two periods combined and halted three of RIT's four power-play chances.
Wisconsin's high-powered offense and unyielding defense will need to be just as sharp in the championship game against BC. Having scored 16 points in its last two games, Boston College has proven it can light up the scoreboard as well. Led by sophomore leading scorer Cam Atkinson (28-23=51), the Eagles enter the championship on a 12-game unbeaten streak.
Boston College is no stranger to the Badgers when it comes to national championship games. Back in the Badgers' 2006 National Title campaign, Wisconsin bested BC, 2-1, to bring the title back to Madison.
Since that game, the schools have battled three other times, with the Eagles coming out victorious in all three contests.
Wisconsin heads into the national title game having lost only five times since the calendar turned to 2010. This is thanks in large part to the prolific offensive production by the Badgers. Wisconsin is the only team in the country to boast four 50-or-more point scorers. The four scorers all find themselves in the top-13 in the nation in terms of points-per-game.
After his two goal, two assist performance in the Badgers' semifinal victory, sophomore forward Derek Stepan (Hastings, Minn.) finds himself at the top of the scoring sheet with 54 points (12-42=54). Stepan's 1.05 assists-per-game land him in third place nationally.
Right behind him is senior forward Michael Davies (St. Louis) with 52 points (20-32=52), who also found the net in the victory over RIT. Entering his final game as a Badger, Davies is averaging just under one assist per contest.
Brendan Smith is tied for second on the squad in scoring. The nation's top-scoring defenseman and INCH National Defenseman of the Year heads into the title game with 15 goals and 37 assists thus far. He leads all other rear guards by 14 points.
Rounding out the 50-point scorers is senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn.) with 50 points. The INCH National Player of the Year and Hobey Hat Trick finalist notched a second-period goal and an assist in Thursday's victory. Geoffrion leads the country in power-play goals, having smacked in 15 goals so far with the man-advantage.
Defensively, led by junior tri-captain Ryan McDonagh (Arden Hills, Minn.) and sophomore defenseman Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka, Minn.), the Badgers cracked the top-10 in their penalty killing, stopping just less than 90 percent of scoring tries when down a man. Gardiner's plus-26 mark leads Wisconsin heading into the championship.
With one game remaining in their season, the Badgers hope to bring it all together just one more time. Head coach Mike Eaves is familiar with national titles in Detroit, having won one himself as a player back in his 1976-77 campaign.
Led by tri-captains Geoffrion, McDonagh and Ben Street (Coquitlam, British Columbia) and Coach Eaves, the Badgers will vie for the program's seventh national title Saturday evening.
Puck drop is slated for 6 p.m. CT, and the game airs live on ESPN and ESPN360.com.
For live stats, an audio stream and live blog, check out UWBadgers.com during the game.
Individual tickets to the NCAA Men's Frozen Four National Championship game will be available at 10 a.m. on Friday. Ticket prices range from $39.50 to $94.50 and are available at Ticketmaster.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000 and at the Ford Field Gate A box office.
Don't miss the opportunity to witness history in Wisconsin. The Badgers are ready; let's drop the puck.