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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, February 23, 2024
Badgers set to renew North Dakota rivalry

Jordy Murray: Jordy Murray leads the Badgers with eight goals this season. The next closest player is Justin Schultz who has scored four times.

Badgers set to renew North Dakota rivalry

Heading into a weekend series with No. 10 North Dakota, No. 13 Wisconsin (3-1-1 WCHA, 6-2-2 overall) is in the midst of a grueling stretch of schedule that will undeniably test the poise of the youthful Badgers.

""Right now with young people, every series is probably the most exciting series in the world,"" Eaves said. ""This is the first time seven or eight guys are going to play in the Kohl Center against North Dakota. It's a special atmosphere.""

North Dakota (4-2-0, 6-2-2) enters the weekend in a three-way tie with Wisconsin and Nebraska–Omaha for second in the WCHA, but winless in their last four games with Badgers (0-3-1).

The Sioux's penalty kill unit (41 of 50 on the season) will be put to the test this weekend when they match up against Wisconsin, the nation's third ranked power play. The Badgers have found the net 17 times this season with the man advantage.

Eaves, however, is not focusing on the numbers. He is focusing on the Sioux.  

""It's the same North Dakota team,"" Eaves said. ""They play hard. They play at a high tempo. They play physical. Since day one, that's been their formula for victory.""

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Eaves described his own leading goal scorer, junior forward Jordy Murray, using many of the same accolades he used to illustrate North Dakota's perennial success.

""He's probably one of our hardest workers,"" Eaves. said ""For a little guy, he puts his nose in first in places where he's not the biggest guy. He understands that part of the game and he's willing to go there.""

Murray notched three goals last weekend, including two in a hard fought, come from behind 3-3 tie with Minnesota.

""He's a little Tasmanian Devil out there,"" said freshman forward Mark Zengerle, Murray's line mate. ""He's on every puck and he works so hard. He's a great guy to play with.""

Murray, Zengerle and sophomore forward Craig Smith (Wisconsin's first line of forwards) has produced 16 goals and 26 assists on the season. Murray explains the scoring prowess of Wisconsin's first line stems from the trio's ability to complement each other.

""[Smith] is a shooter and he's got great speed, Zengerle's more of a playmaker,"" Murray said. ""I like working the corners … and do whatever it takes to free up space for those guys. They're great players and I think I compliment them well.""

Zengerle leads the conference with 16 points and was named last week's WCHA Rookie of the Week after tallying one goal and five assists against Minnesota.  

Whether or not Wisconsin can maintain their current level of offensive production is to be seen. The Badgers' offense will surely be tested in the coming weeks with a remaining November schedule that features bouts with No. 2 Minnesota–Duluth, No. 8 Michigan and No. 16 Michigan St.

With back-to-back series against North Dakota and Minnesota–Duluth, Wisconsin will be looking to establish their position as one of the WCHA's top contenders. The Badgers hold an 84-60-11 all time series advantage over North Dakota.

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