Wisconsin hasn’t had a sellout in any of its first four home games, but athletic department officials are expecting that to change this weekend.
UND will be in Madison during a busy sports weekend in the college town. The hockey games are at 7:07 on Friday and Saturday, and the football team is hosting Indiana on Saturday afternoon.
Believe it or not, over half of UND’s roster has never experienced the Kohl Center. UND didn’t go there last year.Â Some of the younger players said they heard about it from the older playersÂ and are excited to experience it for themselves.
One of those who has never played at Kohl CenterÂ is sophomore Danny Kristo, who enters the series without a goal in the first 10 games. Kristo buzzed his hair this week, so maybe that will help change his fortunes. Jayson Hajdu had an interesting note in his release this week that Kristo had only 1 goal in 11 games to start last season. Kristo finished with 15 tallies and 41 points and won rookie of the year.
In Thursday’s paper, I wrote a feature about freshman Derek Rodwell. He didn’t get much talk coming in, but he has made it impossible for theÂ coaches to take him out of the lineup. His coaches and teammates had some interesting comments about Rodwell in the story here.
Today’s notebook talks about the early departures in college hockey. UND coach Dave Hakstol doesn’t seem quite as alarmed as other coaches, noting the pride the coaching staff takes in seeing guys move on to the NHL. He also said players have to make smart business decisions when it comes time to leave. Read that story here.
There are also some notes in that story, including one about Derrick LaPoint, who will have lots of family on hand this weekend. Believe it or not, but LaPoint has not played in Madison since the first month of his college career. He has been injured on UND’s last two trips to Kohl Center.
This week’s Q&A is with Chay Genoway, who talks about his first 10 games back and gives us his list of favorites.
Like UND, the Badgers are in the middle of a tough stretch of games. After the Sioux, they get Duluth, Michigan and Michigan State. Wisconsin is coming off of a three-point weekend at Minnesota.
One of the key players in the weekend at Mariucci was freshman Michael Mersch, who is the first player under Mike Eaves to accelerate high school and come to college early. I can think of three players off hand at UND who have recentlyÂ done it: Jonathan Toews, Joe Finley and Dillon Simpson. I know Drew Stafford came in at 17, but I’m not sure if he accelerated.
Elsewhere around the league…
Nebraska-Omaha at St. Cloud State: Omaha coach Dean Blais is sticking to his prediction that Mike Lee will lead the Huskies to their first national championship. Blais coached Lee, of Roseau, with the Fargo Force. Blais also warns the Mavs about how good the Huskies are.
Michigan Tech at Minnesota-Duluth:Â Duluth has been getting big production from freshmanÂ J.T. Brown, who is the son of a former Vikings running back.Â Also of note, a year after Ralph Engelstad Arena’s Denny Gunderson retired, Duluth’s Zamboni driver also is going to call it quits after 37 years.
Alaska-Anchorage at Bemidji State: The Anchorage Daily News has a good story about Brookings, S.D., product Justin Kirchhevel, who UAA says is the first South Dakota native to play in the WCHA. He also played junior hockey with the Fargo-Moorhead Jets. Kirchhevel has three points in two games for the Seawolves. Bemidji State, meanwhile, is getting solid minutes from Grand Rapids product Sam Rendle.
Colorado College at Air Force, vs. Yale: Both Colorado Springs teams are looking to take a step forward, while Yale will be looking to knock off a WCHA team to help its Pairwise cause at the end of the season.
…and that should do it. Catch you all from Madison.