It’s not the Milwaukee Cup, but it’s the next best thing.
Marquette hockey will play a home-and-home series with cross-town rival UW-Milwaukee this weekend in their first meeting since the 2012-’13 season.
“I think it’s a rivalry of the future,” head coach Will Jurgensen said. “Even though we haven’t played each other, there’s still going to be a natural rivalry there, which is great. I think it’s awesome.”
The Golden Eagles are 6-3-1 and currently sit tied for fourth in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division III Pacific region. UWM, a Division II team, is a dreadful 0-8, splitting an 0-4 record against both Division II and Division III competition.
Marquette is getting it done on both sides of the ice this season. The offense is averaging 4.1 goals per game this season, led by freshman Lee Barnes’ four goals and nine assists, sophomore Brian Kennedy’s seven goals and four assists and junior Johnny Stillman’s six goals and five assists. Despite the offensive display, the X-factor for the Golden Eagles has been the defense and sophomore goaltender Robby Arner. The goalie is allowing just 1.88 goals per game, which ranks 17th in Division III. UWM is averaging just 2.37 goals per game, so the defense will definitely be tested.
The Golden Eagles have played well through a difficult early schedule, including a win against the Division II Minnesota Golden Gophers two weeks ago. Marquette and UWM share two common opponents, Northwestern and Robert Morris-White–the Golden Eagles went 3-1 against those teams. Jurgensen believes his team can keep carrying the momentum into this weekend.
“I’m always optimistic. I’ve seen our guys play very very well and I’m always confident that they’re going to come to the rink ready to go,” Jurgensen said. “There’s no doubt to me that if we play Marquette hockey for 60 minutes, we’re going to be the better team.”
The rivalry series will get an added twist because it falls on Halloween weekend. Marquette will host Friday night’s game at the Ponds of Brookfield, then the teams will make the short trip to the Pettit National Ice Center for a Saturday matinee. Jurgensen said Halloween games have become more popular since the tradition began about five years ago.
“Part of what made it great was the fact that people could wear costumes to the game,” he said. “It’s the same reason Halloween is great anywhere else. The word spread to students that they were having a blast at the games, and I think this is going to be the biggest one yet.”
Some of the younger players, including the freshman Barnes, have heard a lot about experiencing the festivities during Halloween games.
“All the older players have been telling me how it’s one of the most fun games every year because of how rowdy the fans get,” Barnes said. “I’m really hoping for a good turn-out.”
Jurgensen was the captain during the 2012-13 season, when his team swept the Panthers in the season series. He said he wants the series to become an annual rivalry, but he’ll be glad to take one win at a time.