A great weekend for UW hockey

first_imgFirst off, I think if J.A. Adande can stick with his “Adande Lounge” when he wins on ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” I at least deserve a Schmoldt .45 Dive Bar.Hanging out today we’ve got Tucker Fredericks, a former high school classmate of mine who is set to make his Olympic speed-skating debut in Torino later this month alongside fellow-Wisconsinites Kip Carpenter and Casey FitzRandolph.Joining him are Jerramy Stevens, who is drowning his Super Bowl woes and Terry Bradshaw, who I paid a $100,000 appearance fee to be here.Now on with the show.If you got a chance to hear or see what Mark Johnson said at a Monday press conference yesterday, you know that he said “If you’re a Badger hockey fan, it’s a pretty good time of year.” If you’re hearing that for the first time, you may have just reread that sentence a few times over before you moved on.It was a pretty ironic day to be making such a statement.On Monday, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team clung to its No. 4 ranking nationally after losing its fifth game in its last six contests. And this time it wasn’t against fellow WCHA front-runners Denver and Minnesota, it was against a reeling eighth-place Minnesota-Duluth team.On the same day, Johnson’s then-No. 1 UW women’s team lost hold of that ranking following a loss to sub-.500, yet somehow No. 10-ranked, St. Cloud State on Saturday. The Badgers fell to No. 2 in the USCHO.com rankings following the loss.With all due respect to Bob Johnson, Monday didn’t exactly seem like a great day for hockey. Yet, his grandson stepped up to the microphone and, to the appreciation of Badger fans everywhere who have been dismayed with the lack of success in Badger sports lately, shed some positive light on the situation.And he makes a pretty valid point.First, one of the biggest games in college hockey this season — though it’s not the most important of the Badgers’ season — takes place this Saturday when UW takes on Ohio State at Lambeau Field.Even if you don’t like Wisconsin or Ohio State, or hockey in general, you should be at this game. It is taking place at Lambeau Field, a holy shrine in the state of Wisconsin, and it’s not like this game comes around once a year.”I think just being at Lambeau, being outside would probably be number one and two [reasons to go to the game],” head coach Mike Eaves said when asked which reasons were probably most important to the fans. “The game itself would probably be three.”This could either be the start of a longtime tradition or it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Either way, why miss it? What’s better that you have going on Saturday afternoon that would keep you from watching a historic outdoor hockey game?If this is the only time a hockey game is played at Lambeau Field, you can tell your grandkids you were there.But if this could perhaps become an annual event, you could tell them you were at the first one.But that is just one of many reasons why it is a great time for Badger hockey.On the women’s side, Johnson’s team will be taking part in perhaps the biggest series of the weekend right here at home. In fact, if you answered my question a few paragraphs back with something like “I won’t be there because I’m going to need to be in town for the women’s game,” then more power to you.If you are just being lazy and not going to Green Bay, or if you miss having a hockey game on a Friday night, check out Wisconsin’s Friday/Saturday series with No. 4 Minnesota.If you’ve never been to a women’s hockey game before, this is the series to see. If you are a regular at the Kohl Center for the women’s games, you already know what I’m talking about.You have a chance to see two teams this weekend that have each been the top-ranked teams in the country this year — one of them in a big-time series with the school’s biggest rival, and the other that is taking on what is a Big Ten rival in almost every other sport at a venue which may never host another hockey game.By now, you should have a nice little weekend planned out.But again, I understand there are some people that need to stay home and study or for whatever reason are locking themselves in their homes this weekend, the Olympics will be starting and several Badgers will be representing the United States in Torino.The U.S. men’s team includes former Badgers Brian Rafalski and Chris Chelios — who is also the team captain.Dany Heatley will also be playing in the Games for Team Canada.Johnson can enjoy some of his former players taking part in the Olympics.Former Badger Molly Engstrom will play for Team USA while Carla MacLeod will play for Team Canada.The opening ceremony is Friday, while hockey begins play Saturday.So, despite the recent stumble by the Badgers, mostly on men’s hockey side, this is no time to give up on the UW hockey programs. In fact, in terms of hockey, weekends don’t get much better than this one.So don’t miss out.last_img

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