Thursday reading: Kris Fredheim; WMU-Duluth preview; CC 3 Things

Published: December 12, 2013, 8:40 am, by Joe Paisley

fredheimFormer Tiger Kris Fredheim scored for AHL St. John’s.

The only NCHC series this weekend involves Western Michigan at Minnesota-Duluth, which are tied for last in the league because they have played only six league games.

Both teams could overtake fifth-place Colorado College (10 league games) in the standings  since the Tigers are at nonconference No. 15 Wisconsin Friday-Saturday.

WMU coach Andy Murray is quite familiar with Duluth.

Here are three things to watch when Colorado College (2-10-3, 2-5-3-1 NCHC) travels to No. 15 Wisconsin (6-5-1, 2-2 Big Ten) for a nonconference series at 5:37 p.m. Friday (NBC-SN); 6 p.m. Saturday at the Kohl Center.

Watch out for Badger standouts

A veteran Wisconsin squad has two of the best in the Big Ten in junior defenseman Jake McCabe, who leads that league’s blue-liners with 11 points (eight assists) and senior forward Michael Mersch (Big 10-best 14 points, eight goals).

“They are both proven players,” CC assistant Joe Bonnett said. “Mersch is big, attacks the net and is tough to defend.”

Other Badger leaders, all forwards, include sophomore Nic Kerdiles (14, seven goals), senior Mark Zengerle (12, 11 assists); and senior Tyler Barnes and junior Joseph LaBate, both with 10 points (six assists). Last season, Wisconsin went 21-6-5 after Kerdiles served a 10-game NCAA suspension (1-7-2).

Keep that Kohl kharma clicking

The Badgers lead the all-time series, 109-69-9, but have won just five of the past 22 games dating back to the 2006-2007 season against Colorado College, which has gone 6-3-1 at the Kohl Center (13,310 hockey capacity) during that span.

“It’s a fun building to play in that seems to brings out the best in our guys,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “A lot of the guys really enjoy playing there with the great atmosphere. Hopefully being on national TV will keep us going.”

Punch through Wisconsin defense

During even-strength play, the Badgers use a 2-3 formation, meaning one forward stays back with the two defensemen, to prevent breakaways and other such Grade-A scoring chances.

“Getting odd-man rushes will be very difficult to generate against these guys,” Bonnett said. “We will have to work hard to create chances.”