By John Lachmann
WHO: No. 8 Miami RedHawks (12-5-5) at Wisconsin Badgers (8-7-5).
WHERE: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis.
WHEN: Friday, 9 p.m. and Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: Friday—Big 10 Network (DirecTV Ch. 610, Dish Network Ch. 439); Saturday—FS Wisconsin Plus (DirecTV Ch. 685 and Dish Network Ch. 9516).
MIAMI RADIO: Friday—WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.; Saturday—WKBV-AM (1490) and WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio.
WISCONSIN RADIO: Both nights—WIBA-AM (1310), Madison, Wis.
NOTES: The last time Miami and Wisconsin met, Enrico Blasi was the RedHawks’ (then Redskins’) captain.
The only other time these teams played each other in the regular season, Miami freshman forward Sean Kuraly’s father, Rick Kuraly, was enjoying a 29-goal freshman season in Oxford.
Wisconsin is 2-0 all-time vs. Miami, having knocked the RedHawks out of the NCAA Tournament in 1993 and beating them in their only regular-season meeting in 1979.
The Badgers started the season 1-7-2 but are unbeaten in their last 10 (7-0-3), including six straight wins.
Wisconsin had trouble finding the net early in the season, but its offense has picked up during its recent hot streak. Los Angeles Kings draftee junior forward Michael Mersch has three times more goals than anyone on the team, having scored 12 times with five assists for a team-high 17 points.
Only two other Badgers have at least 10 points – senior forward Derek Lee (3-13-16) and junior forward Mark Zengerle (3-8-11).
Wisconsin boasts a talented blueline corps, led by sophomore Jake McCabe and senior John Ramage.
McCabe was the captain of Team USA in the World Junior Championships, where he recorded three goals and three assists. The second-round Buffalo Sabres draft pick has two goals and seven assists with the Badgers.
Ramage is the son of long-time NHLer Rob Ramage. Ramage was selected in the fourth round by the Calgary Flames, and has four goals and a pair of helpers.
Last weekend, Ramage scored overtime winners in both ends of Wisconsin’s series at Minnesota State.
Sophomores Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel have been splitting time in net, and while both have goals-against averages below two, Rumpel has been the better half of the tandem recently.
Peterson has been getting the nod on Fridays, so he will likely start between the pipes in the series opener. Peterson is 4-2-2 with a 1.93 GAA and a save percentage of .932, although he has allowed six goals on 56 shots in his last two outings, although the Badgers won both games.
Rumpel is 4-5-3 with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage, but he has surrendered just two goals in his last three starts.
Wisconsin’s special teams have been anything but. The Badgers are 10.0 percent on the power play and 82.7 percent on penalty kills.
Miami has netted just six PPG’s in its last 13 games, but fortunately for the RedHawks, they have given up just one goal in their last six games on the man advantage.
Especially in a hostile road environment, Miami needs to start its games better this weekend. The RedHawks have scored just once in their last nine games in the first period.
These are the last non-conference games Miami will play this regular season. After this weekend, the RedHawks return home for a four-game homestand, their first games at Cady Arena since the first weekend of December.
Freshman Jay Williams should start in goal for the opener. He has allowed just three goals in his last three games.