Wisconsin heads into uncharted territories

first_imgThe Wisconsin Badgers head to unfamiliar Bemidji State this weekend in the second to last series of the regular season. The Badgers sit just three points behind the Beavers in the conference standings and need to continue their recent success if they want to have any hope of catching BSU this weekend on the road. UW is only 1-8-1 on the road this season.[/media-credit]All season long, when the Wisconsin men’s hockey team has taken a road trip, there’s always been concern over how the youngest Badgers will handle a new atmosphere.As they head to Bemidji State (15-14-3, 9-12-3 WCHA) this weekend, the youngsters aren’t the only ones who have never visited BSU before – in fact, Wisconsin (13-15-2, 8-14-2 WCHA) as a whole has never set foot on its foe’s campus.“Well, I hope I perform well; I’ll probably be outstanding behind the bench,” head coach Mike Eaves joked.In fact, some of the guys can’t even locate Bemidji, Minn., on a map.Sophomore defenseman Joe Faust used to live in the northern woods of Minnesota, not too far away from Bemidji, and has received questions about it.“I went to a school called Greenway,” Faust said. “I have a lot of friends and family that’s still up there, so I’m excited. Some of the guys were asking me where it was. They knew it was in northern Minnesota, but they didn’t really know where, so I was describing that a little bit.”Joining the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2010, the Badgers hosted the Beavers last season, sweeping their newest conference adversary with a 3-2 Friday night win and a 2-0 decision Saturday. The teams have met on neutral ice once before, in the first round of the 2006 NCAA tournament.But in the WCHA era, this week marks only the second time the two teams have met and the first time even Eaves has been to Bemidji’s new arena.“I talked to (women’s hockey head coach) Mark Johnson at the radio show; he says it’s a great facility,” Eaves said. “… I think everybody is looking really forward to going and seeing what they have to offer.”With only two more series remaining in regular season play, the Badgers are looking to make the most of what games they have left. Currently sitting in 10th place in the WCHA, Wisconsin trails eighth place Bemidji by only three points.UW is beyond recognizing the importance of the weekend or any remaining series – the team has known just how important each series has been through the second half of the season. Rather, they just need to win, plain and simple.“We need four points,” sophomore Keegan Meuer said. “We’ve said it for the past couple of weeks; but it’s kind of been do or die for us. Every game has been the most important game of the season for quite a while now, but we need four points. A split will do us no good.”For a team that is 1-8-1 on the road, winning has not been an easy task.But after a 5-2 rout of a potential conference title-contending Denver team last weekend in its final home game of the season, Wisconsin knows it just has to keep the offense rolling and continue to get shots on net.“We have to go and bottle what we did on Saturday,” Eaves said. “Not only playing well but finishing offensively. Our [goal] would be to bottle that and take that on the road with us.”“I think we go back and just look at what we did well and how we did it so well,” Meuer said. “I think it was the first time we put up 35 shots in a while. We kept them under 20, and we got a lot of scoring chances. We got a lot of pucks on the net. … If we just keep getting pucks on net and keep getting traffic in front, we’re going to find ourselves with good opportunities to score.”Regardless, the Badgers hope to continue last weekend’s win and its adjoining momentum through the remainder of the season.“I think Saturday was just huge to get out of a losing streak,” Faust said. “To get that win and play better was a huge boost to the team. It’s just brought back a new level of excitement and energy, and I think we’re just going to try and carry that into Bemidji and keep going. We don’t want to get too carried away, but we have playoffs coming up; we just have to keep improving and getting better every weekend.”last_img read more

Argentina, Portugal, Panama Qualify, USA, Chile Out

first_imgThey made a terrible start in Quito, conceding inside 38 seconds, but the Barcelona superstar led Argentina’s fight back to ensure they secured their place in next year’s tournament.It was part of a remarkable night of football that saw:Panama qualify for their first World Cup with a controversial goal in a 2-1 win over Costa RicaThe United States miss out on the tournament for the first time since 1986 after losing to Trinidad & TobagoChile manager Juan Antonio Pizzi step down after his side lost to Brazil to miss out on qualifying for their third consecutive World CupPortugal beat Switzerland to replace them at the top of their qualifying group but the Netherlands go out despite winningMessi said it would have been “crazy” had Argentina not qualified for Russia 2018, but it took his intervention to ensure they reached their 12th consecutive World Cup.Ecuador scored in the first minute, taking advantage of Argentina’s hesitancy, before Messi struck twice before half-time to calm some nerves.His third, a lofted chip over goalkeeper Maximo Banguera, saw his country win for the first time in the Ecuadorian capital since 2001 and, crucially, reach next year’s World Cup.Sampaoli warned against Argentina depending too much on Messi – despite it being a remarkable 11 months since any other Argentina player scored for the national team in a World Cup qualifier.“Today, luckily, the nationality of the best player in the world is Argentinean,” Sampaoli continued.“We must be sure everything does not depend on Leo but today he brought his great ability. I told the group we should help him be in the World Cup.”Nestled between Kuwait and Moldova as the world’s 131st most populous nation, Panama’s biggest football achievement up until Tuesday evening was finishing as runner-up in the 2013 Gold Cup.Now, they have reached their first World Cup – but it was not without controversy, because the Gabriel Torres’ header that drew Panama level with Costa Rica did not appear to cross the line.Despite furious complaints from the visitors, the goal stood, and Roman Torres struck in the final few minutes to send Panama through.It was a neat reversal of fortunes for Panama, who missed out on qualifying for the last World Cup after conceding two goals in stoppage time against the US in 2013.This time, though, it was their 87th-minute winner that ensured their place in Russia – at the expense of the US.In contrast to Panama, the United States has a population of 323.1 million. Their opponents on Tuesday, Trinidad and Tobago, have a population of 1.3m – roughly the same as the US state of Maine.Described as the “most surreal and embarrassing night in US soccer history” and “simply devastating” by American journalists, the players were left in tears following their shock 2-1 loss.“It’s a blemish for us. We should not be staying at home for this World Cup and I take responsibility,” coach Bruce Arena said of a team ranked 28th in the world.“We failed on the day. No excuses. We failed today. We should have walked off this field with at least a point.”Captain Michael Bradley described the night as the “perfect storm”.“Everything that could have possibly gone wrong did, in this stadium and in two other stadiums across the (CONCACAF) region,” he added.“To give away the first goal like that (an own goal) is a killer. But the reality is it was all there for us, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram WORLD CUP 2018Lionel Messi’s hat-trick against Ecuador – the 44th of his career – ensured Argentina survived a scare to reach the World Cup finals on Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning in Nigeria).The 2014 runners-up began the day sixth in the group, knowing only a top-four place would see them qualify automatically for Russia.last_img read more