Badger Showdown Preview

Site: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.

Friday-Saturday, Dec. 28-29, 2007

Participants: Bowling Green, Northeastern, Colgate, Wisconsin

Game 1: Bowling Green vs. Northeastern, 4:05 p.m. CT

Bowling Green Falcons (8-6-0, 5-5-0 CCHA)

Head coach: Scott Paluch Leading scorers: Sr. Derek Whitmore (13-5 — 18), Jr. Kevin Schmidt (3-11 — 14)

Leading netminders: Fr. Nick Eno (5-2-0, 2.29 GAA, .904 SV%), Jr. Jimmy Spratt (3-4-0, 2.58 GAA, .900 SV%)

Northeastern Huskies (7-4-2, 6-3-1 Hockey East)

Head coach: Greg Cronin

Leading scorers: Jr. Joe Vitale (5-9 — 14), Randy Guzior (5-4 — 9)

Leading netminder: Sr. Brad Thiessen (7-4-2, 2.40 GAA, .914 SV%)

Game 2: Colgate at Wisconsin, 7:05 p.m. CT

Colgate Raiders (7-7-2, 1-3-2 ECAC)

Head coach: Don Vaughan

Leading scorers: Sr. Tyler Burton (7-10 — 17), Jesse Winchester (3-14 — 17)

Leading netminder: Sr. Mark Dekanich (7-4-2, 2.33 GAA, .921 SV%)

Wisconsin Badgers (7-7-2, 4-5-1 WCHA)

Head coach: Mike Eaves Leading scorers: Fr. Kyle Turris (7-12 — 19), Jr. Ben Street (7-9 — 16)

Leading netminder: Jr. Shane Connolly (6-7-1, 2.69 GAA, .906 SV%)

Tournament Outlook

Four leagues are represented in this season’s Badger Showdown, and three of the field are ranked…but the host is, uncharacteristically, not at the top of that list. That honor belongs to No. 11 Northeastern, which takes on No. 19 Bowling Green in the first game. After an inauspicious 1-4-0 start to the season — following a 13-18-5 campaign in 2007-07 — Northeastern turned things around in an improbable way with a 2-1 road win over New Hampshire Nov. 3. Since then, the Huskies haven’t lost a game, finishing the first half of the season on a 6-0-2 streak, the second-longest current unbeaten streak in the country. Starting goaltender Brad Thiessen was the November Hockey East goaltender of the month with a 2.30 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in NU’s 6-1-1 November run.

Bowling Green enters the tournament after its strongest first-half since the 1995-96 season, having finished up before the break with a pair of wins against Wayne State followed by two close losses to No. 2 Michigan. Last season, the Falcons anchored the CCHA with just seven wins overall; this year, BGSU is tied for seventh in the 12-team league at midterm. Bowling Green brings a balanced team to the tournament, with a surprisingly good offense. Derek Whitmore is among the nation’s scoring leaders, ninth in points per game, tied for first in goals per game, and second in the country in power play goals (eight); the BGSU power play is the nation’s third best (25.3). Defenseman Kevin Schmidt is tied for second among scoring blueliners nationwide, and the Falcons have the 13th-best scoring offense in D-I hockey. The game marks the first match between the teams since a 4-1 NU win Oct. 16, 1999.

Game 2 pits Colgate against host Wisconsin. These are the last nonconference games of the regular season for the Raiders, whose last action was two wins over Robert Morris Dec. 1-2, the first two-game weekend sweep of the season for CU. Colgate suffered a six-game winless streak from the end of October through most of November, but finished the first half going 4-1-1 in the final six contests. The Raiders turned it around taking three points in a weekend against Dartmouth and Harvard and have gone out of conference since then. This is the Raiders second tournament of the season, having been the runners-up in the Governor’s Cup earlier in the season.

The Badgers have captured the tournament title nine times in its 18-year history, most recently in 2005. This year, the Badgers are without three of their top five scorers, including their top man Kyle Turris; forwards Turris (Canada) and Blake Geoffrion (USA) and defenseman Jamie McBain (USA) are all competing in the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championships. UW, currently tied for seventh in the WCHA standings, finished the first half of the season going 2-1-1 in the last four games after five-game winless streak to round out November. The Badgers have the 10th-best scoring offense in the country, but the trio of players that UW will be missing this weekend accounts for 16 of the team’s 52 overall goals, including seven of Wisconsin’s 15 power-play markers. Wisconsin is 4-0-0 all-time against Colgate, having last defeated the Raiders in the 2002 Showdown.