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WCHA Preview: November 16th-17th

Four conference series highlight this week's action.

Larry Radloff/

Wisconsin at Minnesota

We'll have both Nate Wells and Andy Johnson covering these games live from Mariucci Arena this weekend, so expect lots of coverage of the Border Battle this weekend.

The Badgers will be without top scorer Mark Zengerle, who is out with a broken finger. That's a particularly tough loss this week, since Zengerle has 13 points in 8 career games against Minnesota. The Badgers will also be down an assistant coach after Bill Butters abruptly quit last week to pursue working in the ministry.

Meanwhile, Minnesota remains undefeated at Mariucci so far this season, and should be hungry for four points after giving away points against three teams in the bottom half of the league and digging themselves in a hole in the MacNaughton Cup race. Everything about this series screams for a couple blowouts for the Gophers. But I'd be surprised if it ended up that way. That's part of what makes college hockey so fun.

The Badgers have been implementing a new forecheck this year. Here's a good breakdown of it. That's a must-read for anyone that is a fan of the Xs-and-Os of the game.

Minnesota-Duluth at North Dakota

Minnesota-Duluth is reeling after five straight games without a win, and is looking to turn things around in Grand Forks this weekend.

It's easy to forget just how young North Dakota junior defenseman Dillon Simpson is, but he's younger than all of his team's sophomores, and all but two of their freshmen.

The Bulldogs were extremely thin on the blueline last weekend after losing Chris Casto and Luke McManus to injury. Freshman forward Charlie Sampair filled in as the sixth defenseman last Sunday. Casto should be back and ready to go this weekend, while McManus is listed as questionable. Meanwhile for North Dakota, Michael Parks' status was upgraded to questionable after being out with injury since North Dakota's season-opening exhibition game.

Michigan Tech at Bemidji State

A coffee-less Tom Serratore discussed this week's upcoming series with Michigan Tech. He sums things up pretty well when he says both of these teams really need a win right now. Unless one of these teams goes on a big-time run, they're both likely looking at a bottom half finish in the league, and series like these can be the difference between playing a winnable first round playoff series, and having to take on one of the big boys. This press conference wasn't nearly as interesting as the one given by Serratore's brother Frank last week.

Bemidji State senior defenseman Brady Wacker balances playing college hockey while having a daughter that is in kindergarten. Forward Jordan George became the only current NCAA player to have 50 career goals when he scored last weekend against Colorado College.

Senior Kevin Genoe is the likely starter in goal for Michigan Tech. Freshman Jamie Phillips will be the other goalie on the trip. Michigan Tech has been looking for an opportunity to get the Winnipeg draft pick into a game, but haven't had a chance yet.

Colorado College vs. Denver, home and home

It's the first of two series between these teams for the Gold Pan. Denver comes in looking like the stronger team, but Colorado College has been playing very good hockey of late, winning their last four straight. With both St. Cloud and Nebraska-Omaha off this weekend, a three or four point weekend could move the Tigers into first place in the WCHA.

Earlier this week, I wrote a feature on Denver's Joey LaLeggia. College Hockey News featured Denver defenseman David Makowski.