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Monday, February 06, 2023

Cole Caufield rips a shot against Penn State. The sophomore forward has kept up his high production so far.

Badger Men’s Hockey: Wisconsin falls to 4-4 after Arizona State series, looks to bounce back against Ohio State

No. 14 Wisconsin (4-4) team fell back to .500 this last week after being swept by Arizona State in brutal fashion, as the Sun Devils outscored the Badgers 11-6 over the series. The Badgers were without four top contributors: forwards Roman Ahcan, Tarek Baker, Dominick Mersch and Ty Pelton-Byce because of COVID-19 protocols. 

Wisconsin, despite sitting at only .500 on the season, have shown a lot of growth since last season. Although they have played the most games in all of college hockey up to this point, they also have four of the top five scoring leaders in Division I. 

Wisconsin’s offense has been one of the best in the country to start the 2020-21 season. The Badgers overall shooting percentage of 19.2% ranks as sixth best in NCAA despite the fact that they have played more games than anyone else in the country.

Surprisingly, senior forward out of Sweden, Linus Weissbach, is the leading scorer for the Wisconsin Badgers. Weissbach has scored 10 points with five goals and five assists on an impressive 19 shots through eight games. 

Star sophomore and future forward for the Montreal Canadien Cole Caufield has also been impressive for the Badgers this season. Caufield has continued his impressive pace of last season, almost matching his scoring numbers from a season ago through the same amount of games.

Caufield has taken twice as many shots as Weissbach and is far and away the team’s biggest shot taker. Although there is a relatively small sample size, Caufield is shaping up to be not as efficient as last season. He is on pace to take about 40 more shots this year than last season while still averaging the same number of points per outing.

Michigan Tech graduate transfer and starting goalie Robbie Beydoun has played well in the first eight games this season, with a decent save percentage of .914, which is in the top fifteen of the Big Ten. 

When looking at the upcoming matchup against the Buckeyes, it is easy to see why Wisconsin would be favored. Ohio State has a measly 1-3 record to start the season after being swept by Minnesota in their opener and splitting their last series with Michigan State. 

Wisconsin’s shooting percentage is almost twice that of the Buckeyes, with Wisconsin scoring on 13.6% of their shots compared to the Buckeyes’ 7.3%. Ohio State has scored only seven times in four games, and has been scored on eleven times. However, Ohio State does have a higher team save percentage with .927, compared with Wisconsin’s .906.

Wisconsin is also a younger team, with an average age of 20.1 years of age against 22.1 for the Buckeyes. Another area where Ohio State has struggled in the start of this season is with faceoffs. The Buckeyes are only winning 35.1% of faceoffs, which is the lowest in D1 hockey, whereas Wisconsin is winning at 48.9%, which is more in the middle of the pack.

Players to watch in this upcoming series with the Buckeyes are senior goaltender Tommy Nappler and freshman forward Travis Treloar. Nappler is leading the NCAA with 84 saves, and had an efficient .944 save percentage against the Spartans. He was the Big Ten’s second star of last week, along with Treloar. Treloar was the Big Ten’s Third Star of the week after ranking second in the conference in scoring last week. Treloar leads Ohio State in scoring this season.

The puck drops at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3 in Columbus, and at the same time Friday on Dec. 5. Both games will be broadcasted on ESPNU. 

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