Afternoon State Sports Briefs: UW men's hockey team ranked No. 13 in preseason pollWisconsin News
-- The Wisconsin men’s hockey team is 13th in a new pre-season poll by USA Today and USA Hockey Magazine.
The Wisconsin men’s hockey team is 13th in a new pre-season poll by USA Today and USA Hockey Magazine.
The Badgers were last year’s NCAA runner-ups, but they’ve lost 11 players from that team. Coach Mike Eaves has 10 new freshmen on a squad that went 28-11-and-14 a year ago. Defending national champion Boston College tops the new poll, with North Dakota second. UW opens its season against No. 14 ranked Boston University in the Icebreaker Tournament in St. Louis next weekend.
The Green Bay Packers thought they solved their penalty problems from the recent past – but they were wrong. After committing just eight miscues in their first two games, the Packers had a team-record 18 penalties in last night’s 20-17 loss at Chicago. That broke the old Packer mark of 17 flags in October of 1945 against the Boston Yanks. And the Monday night mistakes set them back 152 yards – the third-most in Green Bay history. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin calls it a “huge step backward.” He said the coaches have really emphasized the fundamentals at practice, and there’s not much more they could do in that regard. But Philbin promises they’ll keep working on it. Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher had three penalties – two false starts and a holding call that wiped out a 15-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. He said he normally gets just three penalties in an entire season, and last night was so frustrating. Perhaps the biggest penalty was rookie safety Morgan Burnett’s pass interference that wiped out an interception in the final minutes, and gave Chicago a first-and-goal on the Packer nine-yard line. Chicago’s Robbie Gould kicked the game-winning field goal three plays later. The Packers fell to 2-1, a game behind the first-place Bears and one ahead of third-place Minnesota. Green Bay will host the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
There’s a report that Packers’ safety Nick Collins had a run-in with a Bears’ fan after last night’s loss in Chicago. Milwaukee T-V station WITI said Collins was provoked by the fan, and Collins threw his mouth-guard at him while leaving the field. The station quoted Collins as saying the fan spat on him, and used a racial slur. Collins apologized.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema says he’s challenging all of his starters to play better on Saturday at Michigan State than they did a year ago against the Spartans. The Badgers were ahead by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but Michigan State came roaring back – and the Wisconsin defense held in the final minutes for an eight-point victory. Most of the starters in that game will also start for the Badgers on Saturday. Bielema says the Spartans play very much like the Badgers by having solid running backs, quarterbacks which spread the field with their passes, and similar coverage schemes on defense. Both teams are 4-0, and both are in the AP Top-25 – Wisconsin 11th and Michigan State at No. 24. And it’s the first time either team will face an opponent with a winning record this year.
The Milwaukee Brewers will try again tonight to open their four-game series against the Mets in New York. They were rained out last evening at Citi Field. And that contest will be made up tomorrow as part of a twi-night double-header. Tonight, left-hander Randy Wolf will try to keep his recent momentum going for the Brewers against Mets’ right-hander Mike Pelfrey. Wolf is 3-1 this month with a stingy ERA of one-point-two-one. And he’s 13-11 overall with an ERA of just under four-and-a-quarter. Wolf is coming off an impressive win against Cincinnati last week in which he gave up one run in six innings and struck out seven. And Wolf is 6-0 in his last nine starts against the Mets. Pelfrey is 15-9 with a 3.75 ERA. He has won his last three home starts, with a 1.61 ERA in those outings. The Brewers are nine games under .500 going into the season’s final week. The Mets are three below .500.
Milwaukee Brewers’ closer John Axford says it’s been a phenomenal season for him. The 27-year-old right-hander began the year in Triple-“A.” But when Trevor Hoffman faltered, Axford was called up in mid-May. He’s had 22 saves in 24 chances with an 8-1 record. He’s also sporting a 2.28 ERA while holding opponents to a .196 batting average. Axford had Tommy John elbow surgery in college, and the New York Yankees cut him after his first season as a pro. The Brewers gave him a second chance, and manager Ken Macha says Axford appreciates it by quote, “letting it rip.” Macha said Axford came out of nowhere, and it was so refreshing to see. Axford said he was just hoping to make the big club this year – and while he often pitched in Hoffman’s place, he said he still defers to the future Hall-of-Famer. And he says the 42-year-old Hoffman has been a tremendous mentor for him. Nine of Axford’s saves covered more than one inning – and he’s tied with San Francisco’s Brian Wilson for the National League lead in that department. The Brewers will try to open a four-game series tonight against the Mets in New York, after being rained out last evening. Randy Wolf goes against New York’s Mike Pelfrey.
Three members of the Brewers’ baseball operations staff were promoted today. General manager Doug Melvin said Dick Groch will become a special assistant to the GM for pro scouting and player personnel. Zack Minasian became the director of pro scouting. And Karl Mueller was named the head of video scouting and baseball research for pro scouting. All three held lesser but related positions. Groch is finishing his eighth year with the Brewers, and his 31st overall in big league scouting. Minasian will start his seventh season with Milwaukee, and will oversee the entire 13-person pro scouting staff. Mueller is entering his eighth year with Brewers. He was the manager of advance scouting, and he’ll take on some extra duties in his new post. All three promotions take effect immediately.
Jena Berg of UW-Milwaukee is the Horizon League’s offensive player-of-the-week in volleyball. Berg, a senior setter, had 76 assists and 12 kills in a pair of UWM road victories over Cleveland State and Youngstown State. Maureen Bamiro of Butler won the league honors on defense. Also, Sarah Hagen of Milwaukee has been named the player-of-the-week in women’s soccer. The junior forward scored both Panther goals in a shut-out at Youngstown State, and she added a goal in a win over Cleveland State.
Brookfield native Mike Bogard is the offensive football player-of-the-week in the Midwest Conference. Bogard is the quarterback at Grinnell College in Iowa. The junior threw for 394 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-20 Grinnell romp of Lake Forest. Jacob Gahart of Ripon College won the special teams honor. Gahart, a sophomore kicker, booted a game-winning field goal in overtime that gave Ripon a 27-24 victory over Carroll. Adam Hoste of Monmouth is the top defensive player.
Marquette women’s soccer defender Lauren Thut has been named the Big East Conference defensive player-of-the-week. Thut, a senior, limited Pittsburgh and West Virginia to just four shots on goal in a pair of Golden Eagle victories. She also had a goal and an assist in Marquette’s 2-1 victory at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Nate Wara of UW-Oshkosh and Brandon Bruger and Peter Petersen, both of Stevens Point, have been named the WIAC’s football players-of-the-week. Wara, a sophomore quarterback, threw a career-high four touchdown passes in a 43-15 Oshkosh rout of River Falls last Saturday. Wara also ran for 45 yards. Bruger, a senior defensive lineman, had two sacks in a 59-14 Pointer win over Albion of Michigan. Petersen, a senior, won the special teams’ honor for returning a punt 45 yards for a touchdown.
The WIAC also recognized Tim Thornburg of Stevens Point and Alyssa Sybilrud of Eau Claire in cross country – Nick Laubenstein of Oshkosh and Tom Fitzer of Superior in men’s soccer – Jessica Price of Stout and Cassie Stang of River Falls in women’s soccer – Melissa Ellis of Whitewater in women’s golf – Erin Green of River Falls in volleyball – Alexandra Bayliss of Whitewater in women’s singles’ tennis – and Allie Hinman and Abby Werwie of Stout in women’s doubles.
Lakeland College swept the weekly football awards in the Northern Athletics Conference. The Muskies were one of only two teams in the league to play last Saturday, beating Hope College of Michigan 27-12. Lakeland receiver Roberto Flores was named the offensive player-of-the-week. The senior had 167 receiving yards against Hope. Tony Faller was named the top defensive player. The junior safety returned an interception for a touchdown and had one-and-a-half tackles for losses. Nic Horstmeister of Lakeland received the special teams award. The senior pinned four punts inside Hope’s 20-yard-line. Also, the NAC honored Cameron Rate of the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Mya Kass of Madison Edgewood in cross country – Dane Zachman of MSOE and Jessica Spitzer of Edgewood in golf – Jake Parnau of Wisconsin Lutheran and Taylor Hozeska of Marian in soccer – and Stephanie Boehm of Concordia-Mequon in women’s volleyball.
Former University of Wisconsin rowing captain Beau Hoopman is returning to the program as a volunteer coach. He’s a two-time Olympian, winning a gold medal in 2004 and a bronze in ’08. And in March of this year, Hoopman was inducted into the National Rowing Hall-of-Fame. Hoopman graduated from UW-Madison in 2003, and he has volunteered as a Badger coach on-and-off since then. But now that he’s no longer in national competitions, he’ll be around to coach full-time. And Badger head coach Chris Clark calls that a “huge plus.”