With junior center Andrew Joudrey out for 3-4 weeks with a knee injury, the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team has had to shake up one of its top lines. Joudrey injured his knee in Saturday’s game at Michigan Tech, when he collided with a Husky player.
Joudrey had been centering a line between junior left wing Jake Dowell and senior right wing Ryan MacMurchy. Dowell, who has played center for most of this season, will return to that position, with senior Nick Licari joining the line at left wing.
Dowell has not scored a goal since Dec. 10 and has just four goals all season. Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said Tuesday that Dowell is trying to find his confidence offensively.
“Trying to find his strength, would be another way I would put it,” Eaves said. “It’s been eluding him and he hasn’t been as successful in his own mind.”
Dowell is not alone on his line. MacMurchy has not lit the lamp since Jan. 14 and Licari has one goal since Oct. 29.
It had not been the Badgers’ most prolific scoring line, but the Dowell-Joudrey-MacMurchy line was UW’s top defensive forward line. Dowell and MacMurchy have been significant offensive threats in the past, but Eaves said their defensive play makes up for any recent scoring struggles.
“I would hate to play against (Dowell),” Eaves said. “When you go up and you put your arm around him, he is just thick. He’s like a bulldog. And when you run into him it’s like running into a fire hydrant.
“And you know Mac is one of the strongest guys around and I think as much as they would like to be that offensive juggernaut, I think their mentality has to be, ‘We’re going to chip in offensively and be very difficult to play against.’ That’s how they’ll be the most effective.”
Eaves said Tuesday that it was not necessarily a goal to have star netminder Brian Elliott play back-to-back games this weekend, when the Badgers travel to face Minnesota State.
After missing four weeks of practice with a knee injury, Elliott returned to the lineup Saturday night at Michigan Tech, a game UW tied 4-4. Freshman goalie Shane Connelly, who filled in for Elliott the previous eight games (going 3-5), pitched a shutout Friday night.
(Elliott) didn’t feel very good (Monday),” Eaves said. “He was kind of under the weather. He looked human today (Tuesday), which was an improvement. And we’ll see how he fairs as we go down the stretch.”
“I wouldn’t say that’s one of our goals,” Eaves said, referring to playing Elliott back-to-back nights this weekend. “If he’s ready, then we’d look at it. But we’re not going to go in there and jam it down his throat.”
Wisconsin sets sellout record
The Badgers announced Tuesday that UW’s game against St. Cloud State Saturday, March 4, is sold out. It is the sixth sellout of the season for the Badgers, breaking the Kohl Center record of five set last season.
Wisconsin is currently averaging 13,448 fans per home game, and with less than 1,000 tickets available for the March 3 game against SCSU (the only other home game left on the schedule), the Badgers are set to obliterate the previous NCAA average attendance record. Wisconsin owns that mark, having averaged 12,153 fans at the Kohl Center in 1998-99.