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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Badgers look to stay strong on special teams against St. Cloud

geoff: Blake Geoffrion had three goals, two of them on the power play, in Wisconsin?s dominating sweep of Minnesota State last weekend.

Badgers look to stay strong on special teams against St. Cloud

After scoring six goals with a man advantage against Minnesota State last weekend, the Wisconsin power play unit is flying high. Add to that a pair of shorthanded goals during that series and two power play goals against Michigan Feb. 6, and the Badger special teams are playing as well as they have at any point all year.

Head coach Mike Eaves said the recent success of his power play unit shows how much the team has improved over the course of the season.

""The adaptations that our power play, specifically, has been able to do here recently indicate pretty good growth and maturation,"" Eaves said. ""That's going to be a key for us as we get into the playoffs and down the line.""

It will be tough for Wisconsin to keep functioning that well on the power play this weekend, though, as No. 4 St. Cloud State brings their impressive special teams squad into the Kohl Center for the Badgers' last home series of the regular season. Wisconsin can clinch home ice in the WCHA playoffs with a sweep of the Huskies, but it will not be easy against the team that sits two points ahead of them in the standings.

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Although St. Cloud State is coming off of a 8-1 drubbing at the hands of North Dakota, the game will still be a close competition between two of the WCHA's top teams. Eaves said the Badgers' ability to score on the power play ""is going to be one of those key issues"" against the Huskies.

""They are probably one of the more skilled teams in our league,"" he said. ""They work well as a penalty killing group together; it's going to be a challenge.""

Depth will be another factor that will determine if Wisconsin will have success against St. Cloud State. In some of its more recent wins, including their series-opening victory over Minnesota-Duluth and their win against Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium, the Badgers have used their depth to outlast opponents and pull away to take the win.

Eaves stressed the importance of having depth, especially in the chase for a national title Wisconsin finds itself in.

""You take a look at any good team that's won a championship, if you go back and look at it, each one of those teams will have that factor of depth,"" he said.

As well as the big picture of the national title, Eaves said the Badgers must use their depth over the course of a weekend series if they want to pick up wins in their last few WCHA series.

""When you're playing a 60 minute game and you're playing 120 minutes over the course of a weekend, if you can roll four lines there's a gradual wearing down and if those lines can play at a high level and play with some skill and play well together it does wear [the opponent] down,"" he said.

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