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Road trip: Badgers prepare for Alaska

first_imgAfter a stressful month of play, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team will travel over 3,000 miles in hopes of recapturing their championship glory from last season. Saturday, the Badgers were officially swept by Boston College in a rematch of last year’s Frozen Four title game, and this weekend, they will resume conference play when they travel to Anchorage, Ala. Despite the Badgers daunting trek, UW head coach Mike Eaves believes a road trip is just what his team needs. “I’m looking forward to [the trip]. It’s exactly what we need right now; we need to get out of town,” Eaves said in his weekly press conference. “It’s early in the season, and it’s basically a five day trip for us; and we get to be on the road and get to know each other. … It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to become closer as a team.”The Badgers were outscored 7-1 this weekend due in large part to the Eagles’ edge in experience. B.C. returned 16 players from last year’s title bout, while UW returned nine, losing major contributors to graduation and the NHL. Their rookie replacements, most notably Jamie McBain, Mike Davies and John Mitchell, all seemed to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of a championship rematch.”The whole coaching staff, we were disappointed in the way we played; we wondered what happened with this young group … I think our kids were too tight Friday night, they wanted to play so well and they were outside their ideal performance state and they were too tight and didn’t play the way they were capable of,” Eaves said. “On Saturday we saw them play the way they were capable of, and because of their youth, when we go into another big weekend, we can be more sensitive to that fact and get them to loosen up a little bit.”The talented freshman class has shown flashes of greatness this season, but Eaves knows it is a long process before they reach their full potential.”We’re a younger group, and we have to get these younger guys up to speed with the older guys and upperclassmen as quick as we can,” Eaves said. “Last year, we were an all upperclassman team for the first time, and as coaches, we could sit back and let the team do the work. This year, we have to work with our captains and everybody else to bring them up to speed as quickly as we can.”Despite the disappointing result, Eaves has found a number of bright spots in the Badgers’ forgetful weekend. Eaves attributes much of Boston College’s success to stellar goaltending from Cory Schneider while crediting his team for bouncing back in the series finale. “I watched the [Boston College game Sunday], and by our count, we out-chanced them and we played pretty well,” Eaves said. “We talked Saturday night about how [Boston College] scored on their scoring chances and on our chances (Cory) Schneider was pretty good and he made some terrific saves.”Regardless of the Badgers’ disappointing .500 record, Eaves maintains that the team’s spirits are high, dismissing the idea that a championship repeat is unattainable. Eaves sees the upcoming road trip as a chance for Wisconsin to build on past performances as well as afford them the opportunity to discover who they are as a team.”This is a growth process, and there are a lot of good things we can take away from this weekend even though we lost,” Eaves said. “It’s early in the season, and now we kind of find out where we’re at as a group … can we regroup ourselves here with a direction and an attitude that will help us in the upcoming weekend.” Injury ReportUW forward Jack Skille is continuing to participate in skating drills, and Eaves is hopeful the sophomore standout will be able to increase mobility in his injured elbow. “He is going to have a stick in his hand this week and hopefully get to the point where he can do some skill drills with us, but the contact is a little bit away,” Eaves said.last_img read more