December 12, 2013 Updated: December 13, 2013 at 5:01 am
There is more on junior defenseman Aaron Harstad's mind than a chance to play in his home state this weekend.
The Stevens Point, Wisc. native knows the Tigers need to build on last weekend's success, a win and a tie against second-place Nebraska-Omaha.
"It's exciting to get to play in front of family and friends," said Harstad, who leads the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with 2.6 blocks in league play. "That will be fun. But all the guys are focused on keeping things headed in the right direction."
Colorado College, which also has Milwaukee's Peter Maric on the roster, gets a chance to generate some momentum headed into the holiday break when they travel to No. 15 Wisconsin this weekend. Friday's game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.
The Tigers defense, now tied at 35th among 59 Division I teams, is keeping them competitive until the offense clicks.
It did against Omaha, tallying seven goals in two games after recording 17 in the previous 13 games.
"Our forwards played well on Friday and okay Saturday," Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "Our defensemen and goaltending have been consistently good. We need to keep on building on our success and that includes getting our power play back on track."
The Tigers (2-10-3, 2-5-3-1) power play, struggling much of the season, had a good stretch of four goals in six games, before it faltered in Saturday's tie (0 for six).
They take on an improving Wisconsin penalty kill (83 percent), 26th behind CC (25th, 83.1 percent).
"I just think having repetitions in games, getting their feet together and working together again, and doing it more consistently has been a big help," Badgers coach Mike Eaves said.
The return of junior goalie Joel Rumpel (4-1, 2.21 goals, .926 saves) is an important factor.
Wisconsin was overmatched against Boston College, a 9-2 loss, and Boston University, a 7-3 setback, with Rumpel out with an injury.
Like CC, the Badgers (6-5-1, 2-2 Big 10) want to sustain momentum. They responded to a road sweep against league-leading Minnesota with 7-1 and 4-3 home wins over Penn State last weekend.
"We just need to keep that momentum rolling for us," Eaves said.