Kohl Center, Madison, Wisc., Dec. 31 – Jan. 1
Ferris State (6-10-2, 3-7-2 CCHA) vs. Clarkson (4-11-2, 1-5-1 ECAC), 4:05 p.m. CT, Friday
Yale (1-11-0, 1-9-0 ECAC) at Wisconsin (13-5-0, 10-4-0 WCHA), 7:05 p.m CT, Friday
Consolation/Championship: 4:05/7:05 CT, Saturday
Players to watch: Jeff Legue, C (11-6-17); Derek Nesbitt, RW (6-8-14); Mark Bomersback, LW (4-10-14)
Notable: Ferris State is the defending champions in this year’s Badger Showdown. The Bulldogs beat Massachusetts-Lowell in the semifinals, 7-4, before upsetting Wisconsin, 3-1, to claim the title. Combining with a win in Ferris State’s next game made for a three-game wining streak, but sadly that was the last time all year that the Bulldogs would win back-to-back game, bowing out in the opening round of the CCHA tournament to Michigan State… Consecutive wins haven’t come easy for Ferris this year either. The Bulldogs only back-to-back wins came in a weekend sweep of Connecticut in mid-November… Ferris State has not faced Clarkson since a 3-2 victory at home on November 27, 1999.
Players to watch: Jay Latulippe, LW (7-8-15); Chris Bright, RW (4-11-15); Mac Faulkner, LW (7-7-14); Dustin Traylen, F (2-7-1, 2.69 GAA, .907 sv%)
Notable: Clarkson forward Shawn Weller will miss the Badger Showdown as the ECACHL’s only representative at this year’s World Junior Tournament… Despite a record of 4-11-2, many feel that Clarkson is one of the most underrated teams in the country. That is very true if you look not just at the number of losses for the Golden Knights, but rather the margin of victory in those games. All but one of Clarkson’s 14 losses have been by two goals or less. Seven times the Knight have led or have been tied in the third period only to go on to lose games, and even worse, their record is 2-4-1 when leading entering the third period… Clarkson’s last tournament title was the 1999 ECAC tournament when they beat neighboring St. Lawrence… Should Clarkson meet Yale on the second night of play in this tournament, it will be the first of three meetings this year between the two clubs.
Players to watch: Brad Mills, F (3-9-12); Jeff Hristovski, F (3-7-10); Christian Jensen, F (7-2-9)
Notable: If history has anything to say about it, one would give Yale some hope in the opening game against host Wisconsin. The last time Yale won an opening game in an in-season tournament was at the Badger Showdown against Wisconsin. Yale bested the Badgers, 4-2, on December 27, 1998, though lost in the championship game to Bowling Green, 4-1. Since that time, Wisconsin has only lost one other time in the semifinals, to another ECAC member, Brown, in 2001… After returning from Madison, the Bulldogs will get a bit of a home reprieve with six out of its next seven games in New Haven. In fact, Yale only plays five games on the road for the remainder of the season, with eight of its last 12 ECACHL games at home.
Players to watch: Robbie Earl, F (10-14-24); Joe Pevelski, F (7-14-21); Ross Carlson, F (9-8-17), Bernd Bruckler, G (10-4-0, 2.41 GAA, .914 sv%)
Notable: The fact that Wisconsin has won eight out of its last ten games and is the only team in the Badger Showdown field above .500 would lead one to believe that they’re a strong favorite to win the championship… Wisconsin will have to play without the services of sophomore forward Jake Dowell and sophomore defenseman Jeff Likens, both of whom will represent the USA at the World Junior Championship… Wisconsin will hope to score early, and often as well, but early is the key. Wisconsin is 9-0-0 when scoring first… Wisconsin has won eight of the last 15 Badger Showdowns but only three of the last nine. Its last title came in 2002… Though not many outside of Madison may remember, certainly Wisconsin fans know that the last time Clarkson faced Wisconsin was in the 1991 NCAA tournament. The Golden Knights swept the Badgers in a best of three first round series… Though Wisconsin holds a winning record all-time against the other three opponents, its last meeting with each teams was a loss for the Badgers.
“What I like about the field is that we’re getting a different flavor from different conferences. We’ve got the ECAC, the CCHA. That’s a good thing for our team because it gives us a little bit of a different style, which will be a good thing in the long run.” — Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves on the tournament field.
“It’s going to be exciting. It’s extremely well run, with good crowds and a lot of excitement around the building. We were very happy to be invited back again this year. I was glad that they had an opening. We were going to play two [games] at Clarkson…and we asked Clarkson if they’d come out for this tournament instead.” — Ferris State coach Bob Daniels on returning to the Badger Classic to defend the title.
“I think it’s very beneficial. We’re going to be on the road a lot during the second half of the year so any home games we get in the second half is a blessing.” — Eaves on the hosting the tournament.
“I never [know what to expect]. There was one year that Ohio State came to play…back when we were running our own tournament in Grand Rapids. I think we practiced six or seven days…and we had six of the best practices we had had all season. I thought, ‘We’re going to steamroll this tournament,’ and we went out and got killed I think 8-3.” –Daniels on not knowing what to expect from his team after the break.
“The way the system is set up, every game matters whether the team you are playing is ranked or not ranked. If you lose against a non-ranked team, that hurts you. As a team, you have to be real mindful of that. We will go into this tournament with that mindset. We got off to a great start and everyone is excited to get back and continue playing like that. That’s one of the things we have in favor for ourselves.” — Eaves on playing without Jake Dowell and Jeff Likens, both away at the World Junior Championship.
It’s hard to think that Ferris State will defend its title at this tournament, but at least they’re in the field with a chance to try. Many coaches have talked about how tough Clarkson is as an opponent so don’t be surprised if they pull off the upset and oust the Bulldogs. Wisconsin should have no trouble with Yale, and when you come down to it, should have no trouble winning the tournament.