What: Alaska-Anchorage (7-18-3 WCHA, 11-20-3 overall) at No. 6 Wisconsin (14-7-7, 20-10-8)
When: Friday, March 12, Saturday, March 13 and Sunday, March 14 (if necessary), 7:05 p.m. CST
Site: Kohl Center, Madison, Wis. (15,237)
Broadcasts: Live television coverage on UPN-14 (in-progress following men's basketball game Friday evening), tape-delayed at 10:30 p.m. on Wisconsin Public
Television, live radio coverage on 1310 WIBA AM.
Series notes: Wisconsin leads 25-9-8 overall, 13-4-3 at Madison, 2-0-0 this season
Wisconsin completed a compelling regular season last weekend, turning the program around with 20 wins so far this season, seven more than last year. The Badgers improved in the final Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings by five spots from last year's performance, finishing third.
Alaska-Anchorage is one of just two teams that increased its win total by a greater margin than Wisconsin. The Seawolves, at 11-20-3, captured 10 more victories this season than they did last year. The teams face off in Madison this weekend in a best-of-three series, with the winner advancing to the Final Five in Minneapolis next weekend.
Wisconsin made the trip to play Anchorage just two weeks ago and swept the series with 3-0 and 3-1 victories. However, the fatigue of the trip seemed to linger into last weekend's series with Minnesota-Duluth, where the Badgers earned just one point.
Wisconsin looks to get back on track this weekend in hopes of building momentum for runs at the Final Five and the NCAA Tournament.
"We're going to work on a few things, but we'll be well-rested for this weekend," senior wing Rene Bourque said.
One of those rested players will be junior goalie Bernd Bruckler, who got last Saturday's game off to rest up for this series. The Austrian allowed just one goal against the Seawolves but was just one reason behind Wisconsin's dominance. Anchorage has the ninth-ranked offense in the league, tallying less than 2.5 goals per game. They also have just three players who have reached double-digits in goals scored this season. While the Seawolves have had trouble finding the back of the net all season, they have been able to play with energy.
"They'll play with great energy; it's the strength of their team, along with their goaltending," Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said. "I don't think there will be any question as to what team we'll see, and we know how we can play."
The goaltenders he refers to are seniors Chris King and Kevin Reiter. King has the better stats with a .913 save percentage, but Reiter has five WCHA victories to King's two.
"What's coming at us is a team with two pretty good goaltenders that will work their fannies off to try to use their work ethic to try to give them a chance to win," Eaves said.
Wisconsin also has a goalie with tremendous work ethic and has to be considered the favorite in this weekend's series. It will be up to the Badger scorers, however, to assist Bruckler throughout the series and if all goes well, the team will take the ice in Minneapolis next weekend.
"The fun thing is, I don't think we've played our best yet," Eaves said.