UND brings heated rivalry to town

first_imgBEN CLASSON/Herald photoAs the Wisconsin men’s hockey team found out last weekendwith a series split against Michigan Tech, the WCHA season has arrived. Theschedule only gets tougher this weekend, however, as No. 3 North Dakota comesto town.The Fighting Sioux (4-2-1, 2-2-0 WCHA) began the season asthe top-ranked team but have since dropped two spots following a 3-1 loss toMichigan Tech and a 4-1 loss to Colorado College in consecutive weekends.For the No. 10 Badgers (4-2-0, 1-1-0 WCHA), the rankings ofthe two teams means nothing, as games against the Sioux are always a battle.”It’s North Dakota. They could not even be ranked, but we’dbe jacked up,” defenseman Kyle Klubertanz said. “Every year it’s a rivalrybetween us and them. They come in here and they play hard. The place will bepacked and ready to go.””It’s just an indicator of what kind of team’s coming in,”forward Ben Street said of the rankings. “On any given night, any team can beatany other team. We know that, and we know that these guys are a good team. Wegive them the respect they deserve.”Like North Dakota, Wisconsin came away with a split lastweekend, losing the series opener against Michigan Tech but rebounding to winthe second game. “Friday, we were kind of slow coming out of the gates,”Klubertanz said. “This weekend against North Dakota, we have to get out hard.”Leading the offensive charge for UND so far this season havebeen forwards T.J. Oshie and Ryan Duncan. Oshie leads the team with five goals,while Duncan, last year’s Hobey Baker winner, has eight points.”They’re quick and they’re skilled,” Klubertanz said. “We’rejust going to have to shut those guys down. They don’t like to be hit, so if wedo that, we’ll slow them down.”As talented as Oshie and Duncan are individually, UW headcoach Mike Eaves sees the duo as even more dangerous when they play together.”When you have three good hockey players playing together,it makes it really difficult to stop them because they feed off each other,”Eaves said. “Part of their strength is that they’re able to use people aroundthem to their advantage.”North Dakota also brings with them the nation’s topdefensive scoring team, allowing just 1.29 goals per game. For a Badger teamthat has averaged 4.67 goals per game offensively — second-best in the country —and scored eight goals against Robert Morris earlier in the season, points willlikely not come easy against the Sioux.”It might not even be an eight-goal weekend,” Street said.”We’re going to need to capitalize on our chances when we can, power plays andthat sort of thing. … We don’t expect it to be a shootout game.”Part of the stoutness of the defense is due in part togoaltender Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux, who has started 32 consecutive gamesbetween the pipes for North Dakota. Playing that many games in a row, Eavessaid, has given the Sioux a level of consistency on defense.”From a coaching standpoint, you know what you’re going toget; you’ve seen him play a lot and you have a feel for what you’re going toget,” Eaves said. “That gives you a level of comfort in that if you make amistake, chances are he’s going to stop it.”Lamoureux comes into the weekend with a 1.06 goals againstaverage — good for second-best in the nation.”He’s a good goalie, there’s no doubt about that,” Streetsaid. “In terms of us approaching it, we know that we’re not going to beat himtoo many times on the first shot when he can see it. We’ve got to get bodies atthe net, we’ve got to bang in rebounds — there are not going to be a lot ofpretty goals playing against this team.”The team’s freshmen haven’t had a chance to play againstNorth Dakota, but they still understand the importance of the series early inthe season.”This is definitely a big weekend,” defenseman Cody Goloubefsaid. “This is going to kind of teach us who we are and kind of be a characterbuilder.”For Eaves, it is tough to imagine a series better than theone this weekend that will boast five first-round draft picks, last year’sHobey Baker winner and has been decided by one goal in nine of the last 12games.”Every time we play this team it is one of the best seriesyear, without question, whether it’s here or there,” Eaves said. “Both teamsrise to the occasion, and this is terrific hockey.”last_img