The UW Men’s Hockey team was back in Madison this week after a tough road trip to Alaska where they dropped both games in the Kendal Hockey Classic. Starting their season with a 0-2 record and dropping from the number 10 spot all the way to 18 in the NCAA rankings.
Despite the fall in rankings the Badgers remain positive. The Badgers played ten different freshmen in the second game in the 4-2 loss to Alaska Anchorage. This is the first time that has happened since 2004, also a non-conference loss to Notre Dame. With so many youngsters getting playing time, hopes are high that soon they will feel more comfortable on the ice and the team can elevate their play.
The trip to Alaska was far from a total waste for Mike Eaves as he enters his 13th season as the head coach. He watched as Landon Peterson, who filled in for starter Joel Rumpel for the first game, was named to the All-Tournament Team with 30 saves and allowing only one goal.
Eaves also had to like the improvement he saw just from the first and second games on the offensive side as well. UW could only muster 14 shots in their season opener but managed to up that number to 29 shots (outshooting UAA by four). This trip also gave way to the Badgers’ first goal of the season coming from Matt Ustaski in the second period of their second game.
Ustaski, a 6-6 freshman found the back of the net for the first goal of his career off a nice rebound goal. Fellow freshman, Tim Davidson also netted a goal from a nice wrist shot. The early point production from the new players is a step in the direction for Wisconsin as the season unfolds.
The Badgers’ youth tend to get them into a little bit of trouble as they tallied a total of fourteen minutes of penalties over the course of two games. For Wisconsin to be successful moving forward, penalty minutes need to be minimized. Less time spent on the penalty kill will allow the first couple lines to get into the flow of the game more, which should lead to more shots and goals for Wisconsin.
The Badgers once again leave home this weekend, this time heading to Green Bay as they open a two game series against Northern Michigan on Friday. The team looks to climb back up to a win percentage of .500 before the home opener against North Dakota on November 7th at the Kohl Center.