Men's hockey releases schedule

The University of Wisconsin men's hockey team will have no trouble gauging where it stands on the national scene in 2006-07 with 12 early-season games against fellow national title contenders highlighting a challenging slate.

The national champion University of Wisconsin men's hockey team released its 2006-07 schedule Monday.

The season will begin at the site of one of greatest games in Badger history, if not NCAA history. UW will return to the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon, Wis., Oct. 6-7 for "road" games against Northern Michigan.

The Badgers last played at the Resch Center March 26, in the final of the Midwest Regional against Cornell. Wisconsin won that breathtaking game in exhilarating fashion, when defenseman Josh Engel found forward Jack Skille for the contest's only goal, 11 minutes and 13 seconds into the third overtime. Goaltender Brian Elliott pitched a shutout for 111:13, making 40 saves in the process.

Wisconsin went on to defeat Maine and Boston College in the Frozen Four to win the program's first national championship since 1990.

As the Badgers look to repeat this coming season, they will play six games against 2006 Frozen Four participants and 14 games versus teams that qualified for the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

After the series with Northern Michigan, the Badgers host Frozen Four qualifier North Dakota to open play in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Two weeks later the Badgers will rematch national runner-up Boston College, with games Oct. 27-28 at the Kohl Center.

"It is probably the toughest schedule we've had here in my tenure," head coach Mike Eaves said in a press release. "It is a challenging schedule for being the national champs. To start off the way we do and to add Boston College in there truly is going to be a test. We'll get an early read on how good we are early in the season. Losing four out of our top five scorers, we're going to get a read into where we need to improve."

After contending with the Eagles, UW faces its first true road trip — the rather long travel to Alaska Anchorage. The Badgers then return to the lower 48 states to take on Denver at home, Minnesota on the road, Michigan and Michigan State at home in the College Hockey Showcase and North Dakota on the road.

For those scoring at home, 12 of the Badgers' first 18 games will be against team on Inside College Hockey's very preseason top 10 list, which also includes UW.

UW will try to defend its title in its holiday tournament, the Badger Hockey Showdown, Dec. 29-30. But the Badgers open that tourney against a potentially dangerous Clarkson team. They will play either Providence or Lake Superior State on Dec. 30.

The Badgers ring in the new year with three of four series against fellow WCHA favorites Denver (road), Minnesota (home) and Colorado College (road, the teams' only series of the season).

At least on paper, though, UW's stretch run will not be nearly as daunting as it has been the past two seasons. UW hosts Alaska Anchorage and St. Cloud State before traveling to Michigan Tech and Minnesota Duluth to close out the regular season.

The first round of the WCHA playoffs takes place March 9-11, followed by the Final Five in St. Paul, Minn., March 15-17.

The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament are scheduled for March 23-25 and the Frozen Four is slated for April 5-7 in St. Louis.

Complete schedule (pdf)

Ticket information ( press release)

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