The No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers head to the Twin Cities this weekend to take on the No. 4 Minnesota Golden Gophers in a critical rivarly matchup.
Wisconsin is currently guaranteed a top-four finish in the Big Ten standings, but trail the Gophers by three points for first place. The Badgers have been warriors on the road this season, posting a 7-2-0 record when away from the Kohl Center.
“I think we’ve played maybe more patient on the road. Maybe we don’t think we have to score every shift on the road. I don’t know,” head coach Tony Granato told the media on Monday. “But our team this year has competed to matter what situation we’ve been put in.”
One of those elite competitors is Trent Frederic, who is coming off a four point effort last weekend against Michigan and has been hot lately, riding a six-game point streak into this series.
“His size, his poise, his consistency, his ability to see how the game’s being played all factor into why he’s so successful,” head coach Tony Granato told uwbadgers.com. “He’s only going to continue to get better.”
The Badger offense has been potent as a whole in the last three weeks, averaging 4.3 goals per game. This offensive explosion is a good sign for the Badgers, as the last time the two teams met, the Gophers were held to three goals in regulation time in both games.
This weekend the Badgers have a chance to take fist place in the Big Ten if they can beat the Gophers in both contests. The Gophers are on a three-game win streak and have won six of their last seven. Taking down a hot team at home is no easy task.
“Obviously this is another challenge and we’ve talked about that a lot this year, leading up to each weekend,” Granato said on Monday. “Again, we’re playing the best right now… Our guys have looked forward to these challenges all year and this is another one.”
Granato expects his Badgers to rise to the occasion, as they’ve done week in and week out all year long.
When asked about his teams chances north of the border he said, “We’ve played the level of hockey we’ve needed to at different parts of the season to be confident that we can play well up there.”
The Badgers are in a great position to reach a level they haven’t reached since 2000, the last time they were the regular season conference champions.
No series is more meaningful to fans than the border battle between Wisconsin and Minnesota, and this weekend stacks up to be an exciting one.