When the No. 14 Wisconsin men’s hockey team (3-4-1 WCHA, 4-6-1 overall) steps on the ice this weekend against No. 2 Minnesota (4-0-2, 8-1-2), a wide range of emotions will be felt. The hatred each school feels toward the other side of the Border Battle will indisputably be at full force, and all involved will be in for a weekend of highs and lows.
This especially holds true for four Badgers who hail from the state of Minnesota: Senior forward Ross Carlson, sophomore forward Tom Gorowsky, freshman forward Aaron Bendickson and freshman defenseman Jamie McBain. All four players have a lot more on their minds than the weekend series, since a ferocious crowd and family both await them back home at Mariucci Arena.
“I know a lot of guys on the team there that I grew up and played with, plus a lot of family members will be there so that is a little different,” Gorowsky said. “But it is fun to play close to home.”
The Badgers have a lot of experience playing at Mariucci Arena, and expect a great matchup this weekend.
“I know it is going to be nuts. I have been there before when these two teams are playing against each other so I know it is going to be a great series, a great weekend,” McBain said. “I can just go out there and hope to have some great games.”
These Minnesotans, while proud of their home state, are glad to be playing for UW. Ross Carlson, the oldest player on the team, has a lot of experience playing at Mariucci. The Duluth, Minn. native has been a constant force for Wisconsin in each of his seasons. As a freshman, Carlson joined the team after the first semester, but still had 15 points in 16 games to finish fifth on the Badgers. As a sophomore, Carlson led the team with four multi-goal games.
In his junior season, Carlson was a staple for the Badgers on their way to a national championship. He finished sixth on the team in points, and scored the go-ahead goal against Maine in the Frozen Four last April. Carlson suffered a leg injury early this season against North Dakota, but has returned to the ice and seems to be back in top form.
Sophomore Tom Gorowsky has been somewhat of a surprise to Badger fans this season. After playing 16 of 19 games to start his freshman season, Gorowsky lost ice time to more experienced players on the team, playing in only two of the following 24 games. This season, Gorowsky has shown vast improvement, ranking fifth on the team with six points.
The Lino Lakes, Minn. native has been a consistent player for UW this season, and knows how important this weekend’s series is for the Badgers.
“It is always tough to play at Mariucci, it’s a battle there. It is always a tough atmosphere,” Gorowsky said. “We just need to keep it simple out there and try to not make it fancy and just make sure we compete and play hard and make some hits.”
Freshman defenseman Jamie McBain has been one of many freshman Badgers to see significant playing time this season. The Faribault, Minn., native currently ranks fourth on the team with seven points. Before joining the Badgers, McBain played for the USA Hockey’s under-18 national team, and helped the team win the 2006 Under-18 World Championship.
Freshman forward Aaron Bendickson has started his collegiate career much like Gorowsky did a year ago. Bendickson has played in ten games this season, but has yet to score at this point of the season. Before coming to UW the Thief River Falls, Minn., native played for three different United States Hockey League teams while accumulating 16 goals and 30 points.
With Wisconsin coming off of their second straight sweep at home, the Badgers are looking for a change of scenery and hoping to come home with two wins and a four point weekend.
“I thought we played a great game on Saturday, and the puck just didn’t bounce our way, but we actually played well,” Gorowsky said. “I feel like if we go out there and play hard like that we will give ourselves a chance to win.”