Questions answered in Madison?

Here’s a small sampling of what caught our eyes over the weekend.

Wisconsin’s offseason goaltending questions may very well have been answered…

When the final horn sounded on Wisconsin’s 2010-11 season last March in Colorado Springs, senior goaltenders Scott Gudmandson and Brett Bennett skated off the ice for the final time as Badgers, taking their combined experience of 129 games and 7,404 minutes played with them.

Although junior Mitch Thompson returned, his game experience at the college level matched that of incoming freshmen goalies Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson: zero minutes. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest question marks facing Wisconsin entering the 2011-12 season centered on goaltending.

But Rumpel and Peterson have split the duties thus far through six games and the rookie duo has performed remarkably well. They are a combined 3-3-0 while sporting a 2.77 goals against average and a .909 saves percentage through 368:09 minutes of play.

After losing twice in overtime to begin his career, Peterson made 24 saves in Wisconsin’s 5-3 win over No. 5 North Dakota on Friday. Rumpel took his normal turn on Saturday against the Sioux and turned aside 38 North Dakota shots in a 5-4 sweep-clinching victory.

“It starts and ends with [Rumpel],” Badgers coach Mike Eaves told USCHO’s Todd Milewski after Saturday’s win. “Without his effort in the net, we don’t have a chance. I thought he competed really hard for loose pucks. He fought to see the puck through lots of screens. His rebound control was pretty good. And when he had a chance to handle the puck he did a nice job as well. Pretty complete game for a freshman.”

The WCHA individual scoring race is wide open…

…and whoever wins it, could finish at the top of the national race as well. Minnesota’s Erik Haula is off to a ridiculous start with five goals and nine assists through six games to lead the nation in scoring. He has plenty of help from his linemate, Jake Hansen, who has three goals and eight assists.

High-scoring seems to be the theme this season for the WCHA. The league’s teams have scored 228 goals so far for an average of 3.46 goals per game. That’s the most among the five Division I conferences.

WCHA 228 goals-66 games (3.46)

ECAC 111-33 (3.36)

Hockey East 134-41 (3.27)

CCHA 207-65 (3.18)

Atlantic Hockey 96-51 (1.88)

Danny Kristo of North Dakota also has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in six games. Jason Zucker (3-5—8) and Drew Shore (3-4—7)  are in the national top 10 for points per game in four games for Denver. Don’t forget about Jaden Schwartz. He had four points in Colorado College’s only series to this point.

UMD needed its PK to bounce back

They didn’t face the best power play in the country — that would be Minnesota — but Minnesota-Duluth’s penalty kill needed to have a good weekend after its performance last week against the Gophers. The Bulldogs managed to kill off just three out of nine penalties against Minnesota and got swept. The Gophers scored 10 goals on the weekend and six were on the PP.

The UMD kill has gotten a lot of work so far this season, leading the WCHA in penalty minutes with 122, leading to 30 power plays for the opposition. The Bulldogs allowed 12 PP chances to Providence this weekend and they killed 11 of them and that’s huge in close games like Saturday’s tie.  Of course, Kenny Reiter had to make 25 penalty-kill saves. The Friars entered the weekend with 18-percent success rate on the PP.

The next challenge for the Bulldogs kill is the nation’s fourth-best power play: Bemidji State, which is 7 for 25 on the power play (28 percent).