The 15th ranked Wisconsin Badger men’s hockey team opens up the regular
season with a pair of non-conference games against the Northern Michigan Wildcats tonight at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
The Badgers beat the U.S. Under-18 Team 5-0 in an exhibition last week in Madison.
UW returns 15 of its top 16 scorers from last season, and more than 83 percent of its scoring as it heads into the 2012-13 season. Among the returnees is junior forward Mark Zengerle who led UW in points (50) and assists (37) and was third in goals (13). He is the top returning scorer in college hockey.
The last time the two teams met in Green Bay was the start of the 2006-07 season. The Badgers won the first game and tied the second that season. UW is 5-2-1 against NMU in neutral site games.
Wisconsin also returns its top goaltender, Joel Rumpel, who is starting his sophomore season. Rumpel set a UW freshman record for shutouts (3) and recorded a 2.48 goals-against average and a save percentage of .919. His overall record was 12-12-2.
With nine new freshmen in the lineup last season, the Badgers skated to a 10th-place finish at 11-15-2 in the WCHA. This season, the Badgers will look to do much better. Entering their final season in the WCHA, the Wisconsin has been picked to finish 4th.
One person coach Mike Eaves won’t be able to count on tonight is freshman forward Nic Kerdiles. Kerdiles has been declared ineligible for the season by the NCAA, apparently for violating amateurism rules.
Kerdiles was taken in the second round of the NHL draft by Anaheim. If his situation isn’t cleared up, he’ll likely leave Wisconsin to join the Ducks.
Faceoff time at the Resch Center tonight is 7pm, with the two teams returning for the final game of the series on Saturday night at the same time.