Monday, October 8, 2007

2007-08 Team Preview – Wisconsin

Official Roster
Full Schedule
2006-07 Team Statistics

Top 5 Returning Scorers

1. F – Michael Davis – Sophomore – 11 G, 13 A – 24 points
2. D – Jamie McBain – Sophomore – 3 G, 15 A – 18 points
3. F – Ben Street – Junior – 10 G, 7 A – 17 points
4. F – Matt Ford – Senior – 7 G, 6 A – 13 points
5. D – Kyle Klubertanz – Senior – 1 G, 12 A – 13 points

Key Losses From Last Season

F – Andrew Joudrey – 9 G, 20 A – 29 points
F – Jake Dowell – 19 G, 6 A – 25 points
F – Ross Carlson – 5 G, 18 A – 23 points
F – Jack Skille – 8 G, 10 A – 18 points
D – Joe Piskula – 1 G, 4 A – 5 points
G – Brian Elliott – 15-17-2, .923 save percentage, 2.10 GAA

2006-07 Scoring By Class

Senior 37 39.78%
Junior 13 13.98%
Sophomore 23 24.73%
Freshman 20 21.51%

Non-Conference Schedule

1 vs. Notre Dame – Oct. 12 – Lefty McFadden Invitational, Dayton, OH
1 vs. Mercyhurst or Ohio State – Oct. 13 – Lefty McFadden Invitational, Dayton, OH
1 vs. Robert Morris – Oct. 19-20
1 at Michigan – Nov. 23 – College Hockey Showcase
1 at Michigan State – Nov. 24 – College Hockey Showcase
1 vs. Colgate – Dec. 28 – Badger Showdown, Madison, WI
1 vs. Bowling Green or Northeastern – Dec. 29 – Badger Showdown, Madison, WI

Incoming Freshmen

F – Sean Dolan (Chicago – USHL) / 19
F – Pat Johnson (Lincoln – USHL) / 18
F – Josh Turnbull (Waterloo – USHL) / 19
F – Kyle Turris (Burnaby – BCHL) / 18
D – Craig Johnson (Fairbanks – NAHL) / 20
D – Cody Goloubef (Oakville – OPJHL) / 17
D – Brendan Smith (St. Mike’s – OPJHL) / 18
D – Ryan McDonagh (Cretin-Derham Hall High School) / 18
G – Scott Gudmandson (Omaha – USHL / Salmon Arm – BCHL) / 19

Average Freshman Age: 18.44

U.S. High Schools: 1

Breakdown of Current Roster

Freshmen – 9
Sophomores – 8
Juniors – 5
Seniors – 4

NHL Draftees

D – Jamie McBain – Sophomore – CAR
F – Blake Geoffrion – Sophomore – NSH
F – Matt Ford – Senior – CHI
D – Kyle Klubertanz – Senior – ANA
F – Zach Bearson – Sophomore – FLA
F – Kyle Turris – Freshman – PHO
D – Ryan McDonagh – Freshman – MON
D – Brendan Smith – Freshman – DET
F – Josh Turnbull – Freshman – LA

2006 Season Recap

Coming off a season where everything went right, the worm certainly turned early in the year last season for the Badgers. Early season injuries to key players such as Jack Skille, Ross Carlson, and Kyle Klubertanz depleted a UW team that had lost forwards Robbie Earl and Joe Pavelski early to the pros.

After going 3-1-2 against Northern Michigan, North Dakota, and Minnesota Duluth to start the season, the Badgers would win just one time in their next nine games. This stretch would prove to be very costly later in the year, but UW rebounded nicely. They defeated the eventual national champion Michigan State Spartans on home ice and then swept North Dakota in Grand Forks going into the Christmas break.

They stumbled a bit to open up the second half of the season, but they were one of the best teams in the nation down the stretch, going 8-3-2 to close their season. By most accounts, winning just one more game on their season would have got the Badgers into the NCAA tournament, but the defending champions were not invited to the dance.

2007 Season Preview

Despite their scoring deficiencies last season, no team in the WCHA loses more goal scoring – as a percentage of their teams overall goal scoring – than Wisconsin. Leading goal-scorer Jake Dowell, team points leader Andrew Joudrey, and first round NHL draft pick Jack Skille have all moved on.

On the backend, goaltender Brian Elliott, who has been the best goalie in the WCHA – and maybe the nation – over the last two years had moved on after his senior season. Junior defenseman Joe Piskula left the team shortly after their season concluded, signing a professional contract with the Los Angeles Kings.

Ordinarily, a team losing this much at both ends of the ice wouldn’t be very optimistic about being able to replace all that production. However, head coach Mike Eaves has assembled arguably the best recruiting class in the nation. Led by BCHL standout Kyle Turris, who was the third overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft and recently tore apart Russia in the Canada vs. Russia Super Series, this group of freshmen will be leaned upon to carry the team.

A pair of first round picks – Ryan McDonagh and Brendan Smith – will see lots of icetime on the blueline. They join key returnees Jamie McBain and Kyle Klubertanz. The UW blueline will be very talented, but also very young.

Replacing Elliott between the pipes will be junior Shane Connelly. In limited action last season, Connelly was stellar: he went 4-1-2 with a 1.11 goals against average and a .952 save percentage. History tells us that he will continue the trend of solid goaltending in Madison.

Key Question

Over Mike Eaves’ tenure at UW, his teams have always been very good in their own end but have struggled to score. This was certainly the case last season, They were last in the conference, scoring just 2.11 goals per WCHA game. And, as previously stated, they lose more goal production than any other team in the league. So, as is the case most years at this time, the question is this: will Wisconsin be able to score enough goals? The defensive core is more offensively minded that some previous groups, and Turris will likely be one of the most dynamic forwards in the country as a freshmen, so those two things should certainly help.

WCHA Blog Prediction:

Fifth place

Previous Team Previews
Alaska Anchorage
Colorado College
Michigan Tech
Minnesota Duluth
Minnesota State
North Dakota
St. Cloud State