Friday, January 25, 2008
by, Nicholas Jon Wood
Having put Magnessgate (see post script) firmly behind them—and by most in-dressing room accounts properly harnessed it as a motivating force (they are 2-0-1 since the scandal broke)—the No. 16 Badgers host the 17th ranked Goofs in Madison this weekend. Always an über-intense series, the first edition of the so-called Border Battle this year has heightened implications—both on a league and national scale.
Both teams are tied for fifth (with St. Cloud) in the WCHA with identical 6-8-2 records, good for 14 points, two behind Duluth but with two games in hand. Nationally, these two bitter rivals are also tied for 16th in the PairWise (PWR) which mimics the selection criteria for the NCAA tournament. Short of winning the Final Five, their conference tournament, to qualify for the Big Dance having a PWR of 13 or higher is required. For nearly every reason, big and small, this series is huge.
As far as the players on the ice, the ground squirrels haven't been the same team since sophomore Kyle Okposo abruptly left school to sign with the NHL's New York Islanders. Besides missing stud freshman defenseman Brendan Smith (back), Bucky will hit the ice at full strength.
Here are their projected lines:
Michael Davies-Ben Street-Matthew Ford
Blake Geoffrion-Kyle Turris-Patrick Johnson
Josh Engel-Aaron Bendickson-Podge Turnbull
John Mitchell-Sean Dolan-Ben Grotting
Davis Drewiske-Kyle Klubertanz
Craig Johnson-Cody Goloubef
Ryan McDonagh-Jamie McBain
Shane Connelly, Scott Gudmandson
The Wisconsin State Journal's Andy Baggot reports that between 75 and 100 UW alums and their guests are expected this weekend at the KC. Rumored to be among them? The Heater himself, Dany Heatley. Here's hoping #15 can provide a little magic for our boys.
Drop the puck!
Post Script: A couple Friday's ago at the University of Denver’s “Magness Arena”, University of Wisconsin winger Matt Ford scored the tying goal with 0.9 seconds left in the game. The play, which started with an offensive face-off with 3.7 seconds left in regulation, was originally called a goal on the ice by referee Randy Schmidt. However, per rule, all goals in WCHA buildings are reviewed.
But when Schmidt went to look at the tape, he only requested to look at an overview of the crease with 0.00 on the clock. In that shot, the puck is in the crease. He waved the goal off. Denver wins, 3-2. Yet if he would have taken the time to watch the entire 3.7 seconds of game film, he would have noticed that the puck he saw in the crease with no time remaining was actually on its way out of the net. If he needed further proof (besides the fact that he himself called it a goal on the ice) the goal light is linked to the play clock so it cannot go on after the buzzer has sounded—it did, meaning the goal happened before time ran out.
The WCHA subsequently issued an apology to the Badgers saying that the goal should have counted. Yet they refused to do anything about it. More bizarre, over both coaches’ protests, Schmidt was allowed to ref Saturday night's game. Wisconsin filed a protest. It was denied. Schmidt has been subsequently suspended indefinitely.
Even though Bucky trounced third-ranked DU, 7-2, in the second game, the playoff implications for this no-goal-goal are huge. Certainly it's possible Wisconsin could have lost in overtime, but more likely they get one point for a tie or perhaps even two for a win. This comes into play for many things, including:
1. Tiebreaker with DU
2. Home ice in WCHA playoffs
3. Seeding at Final Five
4. Individual PairWise
With the regionals at the Kohl Center, no matter where Wisconsin is placed in the 16-team tournament bracket, they have a legit shot of making the Frozen Four. As they sit now, this point (or two) could be the difference whether they get in or not.
My solution, while extraordinary and probably never been done before, was to give Wisconsin a point and let Denver keep their two. That way DU is not unfairly punished and Wisconsin gets what should have been rightly theirs. Yes, you could argue that DU might have won in OT, thereby giving Wisconsin a point they did not deserve, however you are also giving DU two points, which they didn't really earn either. The one point for Wisconsin and two for DU seems to make the best out of an embarrassing situation.
To protect the integrity of the game (and overall competitive balance), the easiest thing was just to play the OT before Saturday evening's game. This would have solved everything. Why they didn't do that (understandable if said incident happened on a Saturday) is beyond me. They had a chance to let them settle on the ice and they passed it up. It's really a shame.