The Wisconsin Men’s Hockey team has started their season with a 0-6 record after dropping a pair of games ( scores being 3-4 and 1-5) to North Dakota at home early in November.
This is the worst start to a season for the Badgers since 1934 when Art Thomsen was head coach. However, this team has shown fight and has given fans reason to believe this season is far from a wash.
Breaking it down, there are four dimensions of this UW squad that is worth diving into.
Joel Rumpel has been the definition of inconsistent for the Badger through six games. The six foot three senior has yet to find any rhythm in net this season.
Rumpel, a Hobey Baker Award Finalist a year ago, can stand on his head and make saves that no goalie should be able to make and then in a matter of minutes watch a puck bounce off his glove and into the net.
In the five games he has played, Rumpel is allowing 3.44 goals per game with a save percentage of .883.
The Badgers getting into the win column will have to start with Rumpel. Essentially, the Joel Rumpel that played in net against North Dakota on November 7th, the same man who posted 39 saves in that game, is the Joel Rumpel the Badgers will need going forward this season.
2. Point Production
Another huge issue for the Badgers is point production. This is not new news for UW as it was a concern from the preseason for this young team.
Looking at the point category six games in it is almost embarrassing. Senior Chase Drake and Sophomore Grant Besse are tied atop the list with 3 points apiece.
The offense is simply not there yet. However, the season is young and only six games have been played competitively for this team and many are still settling into Head Coach Mike Eave’s system.
This system is something Mike Eaves has been implementing for 13 years with the Badger hockey program. Eaves is confident the system will work and says point production is a organic product from it.
“If your first guy in your system doesn’t do his job everyone else in the system has to make up for that part” said Eaves in an interview on Wednesday, “so you gotta make sure on a one-on-one individual basis, guys are doing what they need to do”
The Badgers, individually, just have not been able to make it happen this far into the season.
Coaching is huge bright spot to note for the Badgers.
Under Head Coach Mike Eaves the Badgers are never completely out of contention to be competitive in the Big Ten conference and the whole NCAA for that matter.
He enters his 13th season as the Badgers’ Head Coach with a 255-186-53 record to boot. He has seen it all in his thirteen seasons in Madison, and has the capability and confidence to turn this team around.
Eaves also speaks highly of the young squad,
“I look at the standings right now and I see us 0-6 I’m shocked because they don’t feel like an 0-6 team”, said Eaves.
The confidence Eaves has in the Badgers should give hope to Wisconsin hockey fans, “We’ve played some decent hockey, we’re going in the right direction”
4. Team Unity
The final note that should be made about the Badgers is their overall team mentality and unity.
This is a team, who has thirteen freshmen on the roster is still getting used to how each other play.
As many fans know, hockey is a game of chemistry. As a player, you have to know where each of your teammates are going before they go, something that only can develop with time.
Despite the slow start, the team is remaining optimistic according to Eaves,
“Right now the team is very upbeat”
This team is sprinkled with talent across the board and they know it, look for Wisconsin to come together during this rough time and as Mike Eaves put it, “come out on the other side and be better for it”.
Wisconsin hits the ice this Friday (11/21) against Colorado College at 8:30 PM CT. They then finish up a Colorado road trip playing Denver the next night (11/22). Puck drop on Saturday is scheduled for 8:00 PM CT.