After 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.
Published on February 7, 2016 at 6:38 pm Contact Connor: firstname.lastname@example.org | @connorgrossman On the heels of an ugly first half in which Syracuse shot only 2-of-14 from 3-point land, the Orange continued to feed its long-range specialist.Brianna Butler’s first 3-point attempt of the second stanza clanked off the iron and into the hands of Briana Day. She fed Butler again. The 5-foot-11 senior heaved up another prayer, and this time it fell through to draw SU within three.Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman stuck with his starters after a poor opening act, and the veteran core rewarded his faith by outscoring Georgia Tech by 25 in the latter 20 minutes to cement the win.“I haven’t done it in 10 years, I’ve never switched the lineup (after halftime),” Hillsman said. “I don’t even think I’ve ever switched my starters in 10 years.“I think once you get into a flow and you get into a subbing pattern you have to stick with that and have some kind of continuity.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU’s head coach, who doesn’t allow his starting five to take the floor individually before games because he believes he has seven starters, didn’t cycle through his team’s bench. Four of Syracuse’s (18-6, 8-3 Atlantic Coast) five starters, Isabella Slim notwithstanding, played 32 or more minutes for the first time this season in a 71-52 win over Georgia Tech (14-10, 4-7) in the Carrier Dome Sunday afternoon.In spite of a slow start, Hillsman only turned to reserve players Bria Day, Taylor Ford, Danielle Minott, Maggie Morrison and Julia Chandler for an average of three minutes each in the first half. The bench stood idle even longer in the second, with only eight combined bench minutes aside from Cornelia Fondren.But that’s when SU took off and cushioned a lead with 34 combined points from Peterson and Briana Day.“Now that I think about it, we didn’t really sub as much as we normally would,” Peterson said. “I think that just attributes to how deep we are.“We can play the starters the whole game or we can sub in and keep attacking and keep that same pressure.”Hillsman attributed the lack of subbing to a series of live-ball turnovers that didn’t lend itself to clock stoppages. As his starters began to gel in the second half, he had no inspiring first-half bench play to recall upon.He plucked Morrison off the bench to replace Brittney Sykes in the first quarter. She proceeded to air ball a 3-point attempt and miss another one 27 seconds later before returning to the bench after a two-plus minute hiatus.Sykes promptly returned and played a total of 32 minutes, the second-most she’s recorded since playing 37 against North Carolina on Jan. 7. She was a key cog to Syracuse’s press that helped force 35 turnovers, including a key takeaway that she fed to Briana Day for an and-one layup that put SU up for the first time in the second half.“It can definitely be tiring at times,” Butler said of playing in the Orange’s aggressive defense. “Especially late in the season, this is when you have to step up your conditioning … to be able to play these long minutes.”Syracuse relied heavily on Briana Day’s double-double to put away the Yellow Jackets, leaving minimal opportunity for Chandler to cycle in as the big. Peterson is the only SU player averaging more than 30 minutes a game, and Hillsman isn’t keen on yo-yoing her on and off the court. Butler is often SU’s best shooting option.So Hillsman stuck with Butler, Sykes, Peterson, Briana Day and primarily Fondren. It was the combination that sunk SU into a 10-point hole, and the one that rocketed the Orange ahead for a 19-point win.“We just had a certain energy,” Peterson said. “He didn’t really want to break that.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+