ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Associate head coach Mark Strobel emphasized that the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team, 1-5 in its last six games, has players who are working hard.
“We just need to work harder, more together as a group,” he said as the Badgers prepared to play No. 14 Michigan on Friday and Saturday at Yost Ice Arena.
“I think you have some guys that are individually working hard,” Strobel said. “Some guys have to work hard and smarter. Some guys think they’re working hard and we think their effort can be even to another level.”
UW (5-7, 1-3 Big Ten Conference) was looking at fine details of its game this week. One of them was playing as a group of five, one of the trademarks of their style.
Strobel said that has been the difference between nullifying scoring chances in the defensive end and allowing the opponent to enjoy long stretches of pressure.
“When two guys go rogue a little bit and you can see dive downs, not understanding the forecheck, not having the stick in position, maybe being overaggressive when they should angle instead and have a stick-on-puck philosophy, that’s when we get exposed a little bit,” Strobel said.
Michigan (6-5, 2-2), which has the nation’s seventh-best offense (3.73 goals per game) thanks in large part to a successful power play (26.3 percent), has exposed the Badgers in the past.
The Wolverines averaged 4.5 goals in six games against UW last season, including 13 in a two-game sweep in the first round of the Big Ten playoffs.
Caught on video
Here’s an interview with Badgers defenseman K’Andre Miller on returning to the Ann Arbor area, where he played the last two seasons with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
Three more things
• Badgers goalie Daniel Lebedeff and forward Jason Dhooghe both returned to practice Wednesday and were part of the morning skate on Friday. They both left last Friday’s game at Ohio State with injuries. Badgers coach Tony Granato said, however, that Jack Berry will start in goal on Friday. Linus Weissbach did some conditioning Friday morning, but he’s out for the series.
• One of the takeaways from last weekend’s series for the Badgers was that they need to find a way to maintain the puck in the offensive zone and make the opponent work more to play defense. “I think we have to use our quickness down there,” Granato said. “I don’t think we’re an overly big team that’s just going to hang onto the puck. We’ve got some quick forwards and speed down low that we have to continue to develop in that area.”
• Michigan allowed 11 goals in a split at Penn State last weekend, so coach Mel Pearson has been emphasizing defensive coverage with his team this week. “It’s not just one positional area; it’s the whole team,” he said in a web interview. “We just have to make sure we get on the same page and make that commitment that we’re going to do it.”
Put it in quotes
Badgers defenseman Josh Ess on playing at Michigan:
“It’s a fun atmosphere, for sure. Small rink, fast pace. We’ve just got to come out and play strong. Play fast. Play our game. Be all over them and make it feel like we have seven guys on the ice for them. Be all over them and take away their opportunities.”
Here’s the projected Badgers lineup for Friday:
Max Zimmer – Seamus Malone – Will Johnson
Jack Gorniak – Tarek Baker – Sean Dhooghe
Roman Ahcan – Dominick Mersch – Brock Caufield
Matthew Freytag – Mick Messner – Jarod Zirbel
Extra forward: Jason Dhooghe
Wyatt Kalynuk – Tyler Inamoto
K’Andre Miller – Ty Emberson
Starting goalie: Jack Berry