Badgers off to best WCHA start since ’89

by Sarah Mitchell

As talk of Badgers running back Ron Dayne breaking the NCAA rushing record consumed many at Wisconsin, the school’s men’s hockey team quietly slipped into first place of the WCHA.
The Badgers are off to their best ten-game start since their 1989-90 NCAA championship season.
“We have taken kind of a second seat to football and I think now that there’s a little bit of a break between the bowl game, I think we’re going to get a lot more people out here,” Badgers right wing Dany Heatley said. “The Kohl Center is going to get a lot louder.”
Wisconsin (9-1-0, 7-1-0 WCHA) swept Minnesota on home ice over the weekend. The Badgers won 4-3 on Friday and 5-4 in overtime Saturday.
With the sweep, the Badgers padded their first place lead in the conference. Wisconsin tops the WCHA with 14 points, three points more than second-place North Dakota.
Minnesota (2-7-1, 1-4-1) is the sole owner of eighth place. The Gophers have earned three conference points.

WCHA honors
Heatley was named WCHA rookie of the week on Monday. The Wisconsin right wing had two goals and two assists in the Badgers’ sweep over Minnesota.
“He’s not a bad player,” Badgers center Steve Reinprecht said kiddingly. “No, he adds a whole other dimension to the game. He’s unbelievable.”
The league’s preseason pick for WCHA rookie of the year has eight goals and seven assists through 10 games.
Colorado College senior K.J. Voorhees and North Dakota goaltender Karl Goehring received the other WCHA awards.
Voorhees was named offensive player of the week. The wing scored four goals in the Tigers’ WCHA sweep over Michigan Tech last weekend.
Goehring was chosen as defensive player of the week. The junior stopped 56 of 57 shots on goal — breaking the school record — in the Sioux’s road sweep of Alaska-Anchorage last weekend.

The polls
Despite Wisconsin’s WCHA dominance, three-time defending WCHA champion North Dakota is the nation’s top-ranked team. The Sioux are 7-0-1 overall.
With its sweep over Minnesota last weekend, Wisconsin continues to climb in the polls. The Badgers jumped two spots from seventh to fifth.
“We knew from the get-go that we’d be a strong team. It was just a matter of proving it to everyone else in the nation,” Reinprecht said. “It does wonders for our confidence.”
Sarah Mitchell covers men’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected].