Preview: A New Slate

After narrowly missing out on the 2009 post season, the Wisconsin men's hockey team returns a lot of depth and a lot of frustration, which the motivated group is ready to take out on the WCHA.

MADISON - .0002.

A minute number that usually means so little in the grand scheme of things, but it's a number that the Wisconsin men's hockey team has become quite familiar with over the last seven months.

They have seen it on T-shirts, in the locker room and little reminders in the weight room that the Badgers missed the 2009 NCAA Playoffs by two ten thousandths of a point.

"With the history of last year," senior captain Ben Street said, "this group is pretty hungry."

After losing only three main contributors from last season, Wisconsin has its most senior squad since the 2005-06 season, the last year the Badgers won the national championship. Wisconsin returns 80.3 percent of its points and 86.7 percent of its goals from a year ago when the Badgers won 20 games.

"All the guys know what to expect, which is the exciting part," said Street, who missed all but four games last season with a knee injury. "We've been practicing so long that we've gotten good at practicing. We need to get some games under out belt."

That starts tonight and tomorrow with a solid litmus test in the season opener for No.13 Wisconsin, as the Badgers will host a Colorado College squad with two games already under its belt.

The Tigers (1-1-0) have beaten the Badgers in seven of the past eight meetings, but are a team that lost its top two goaltenders, solid defensemen Brian Connelly and Jake Gannon and scoring weapons Eric Walsky and Chad Rau, who scored four shorthanded goals in his final six games against UW.

"We've given up a lot of short-handed goals against them," Street said. "Both teams match-up pretty well and are skilled. It's going to come down to who is more detailed. They are going to be a good team and good test for us right out of the game."

It will also be a test for Wisconsin's two junior goaltenders. Posting one win in three starts last season, Scott Gudmandson has been motivated all off season, but will watch from the bench tonight as junior transfer Brett Bennett will be making his first start for UW.

Gudmandson is expected to start Saturday's contest.

After spending two seasons at Boston University from 2006 to '08 before leaving the program and spending a year with Indiana of the U.S. Hockey League in 2008-09, Bennett, like his teammates, is ready to get the ball moving.

"From the outside looking in, we have a group of young guys that like to have fun," Bennett said. "We have good leadership, good camaraderie. Scott and I get along and push each other each day in practice. It's always fun to look forward to seeing what you got on your team."

The death sentence for Wisconsin last season was the 0-6-1 to open the season, not getting their first win until November 1 and playing on the road five of the first seven weekends of the season.

A year later, the Badgers open at home for the first time since the 2005-06 season and will play four of their first five series at home, allowing the seven seniors and nine juniors to start off on a better foot.

"The group of guys that we have here is real special," forward Derek Stepan said. "We're a tight-knit group and it's going to be a fun and exciting year. It's good to get the ball rolling, especially at home. You got to come in and be ready to go in your own barn. It's a good way to start the season."

Colorado College (1-1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) vs. No.13 Wisconsin (0-0-0, 0-0-0)

Date/Time - Friday and Saturday, October 16-17 at 7 p.m. CT

Arena – Kohl Center (15,237, Rink - 200' x 97')

Television - Live Friday on FSN Wisconsin (Paul Braun/Rob Andringa) and tape delayed on Wisconsin Channel at 10 p.m. No television Saturday.

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Brian Posick and Mike Cerniglia)

Series – Wisconsin leads 105-57-8 (UW leads 55-27-4 in Madison)

Last Meeting - CC won 4-3 on Jan. 17, 2009, in Madison


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