Saturday night’s game is sold out. Friday night’s game is nearly sold out. It is safe to say Badger fans are ready for Minnesota to head into the Kohl Center this weekend.
Minnesota comes into the weekend ranked 12th in the country, with a 16-13-1 overall record. But more important than overall rankings is the fact that the Gophers are 6th in the Big Ten with only 23 points. The most surprising stat about Minnesota’s in-conference performance is that they are a measly 2-8-1 away from home this season. It is clear that Minnesota prefers to play in their own barn, but I have no doubt we will see anything but two fiercely competitive games this weekend.
Breaking down Minnesota’s roster, everything revolves around Eden Prairie native Casey Mittlestadt. Mittlestadt is tied for the team lead in points, in spite of him missing games to participate in the World Junior Championships last month. A tournament in which Mittlestadt was named MVP of, I might add. He is a quick skater, but where he really excels is with his hands. He rarely goes a full weekend without making the entire crowd “ohh” and “ahh” at his ability at least once. There is a reason the Buffalo Sabres drafted him 8th overall in the 2017 draft.
With that said Mittlestadt is not the only exceptional player on the roster. Specifically, defenseman Ryan Lindgren is rock-solid on the back end. The second round pick of the Boston Bruins is sure to be lined up against Trent Frederic’s line all weekend.
As for Wisconsin, they will be missing one key component of the team. Head Coach Tony Granato has traveled to South Korea, leaving assistant Mark Osiecki in charge of the coaching duties. With that said, the Badgers come into this game having won four out of their last five games. Partially thanks to a resurgence of Sophomore goalie Jack Berry. With Kyle Hayton and Berry both playing well at the right time, those goalies could help carry the Badgers into and through the playoffs.
Offensively, the Badgers’ best players have been their best performers. Ryan Wagner has at least one goal in three straight games. Trent Frederic has scored in six of the last seven games, with six total points this past weekend against Michigan.
Additionally, the young defensive core has continued to improve as the season has gone on. With the addition of JD Greenway back into the lineup, the team has been playing their strongest hockey as of late.
Expect nearly 14,000 raucous fans to come out in full force for the final regular season home series of the year.
Game 1: Friday @ 8PM
Game 2 Saturday @ 7PM