ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 21: The helmets for the Wisconsin Badgers sit on the bench before the semifinal game of the Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Championship between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Penn State Nittany Lions on March 21, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

UW Men’s Hockey: Five things to take into 2016

A New Year brings with it many things. Resolutions to eat healthier, work out more or declutter a closet seem to be on top of the to-do list year after year. For the UW-Men’s Hockey team, the New Year brings with it a new start. The year 2015 left a sour taste in the mouth of the program, after one of it’s worst calendar years of hockey in program history.

That being said, 2016 is not a time to be immediately negative. We take a look back on five positive takeaways from the beginning of this season that will hopefully be indicative of the good fortune headed the Badgers way in new year.

 

The Badgers enter 2016 with a 4-7-5 record. They only had 4 wins all of last season ending the year at 4-27-5.

This bodes well that this season can not be, record wise, as bad as the last one. These four wins include a sweep at home against Arizona State, a gutsy road win against a top-ranked North Dakota team, and a series split at Michigan State.

It isn’t as if the Badgers are beating up on bad programs. There are glimpses of a team who are ready to compete at the highest level, but need to be most consistent with it — something that comes with experience for this youthful team.

 

The freshman for Wisconsin are phenomenal this year

Last year, Wisconsin struggled with the amount of freshmen getting ice time, this year, the freshmen are helping Wisconsin win games. Points are coming in critical moments and there is a lot more consistency of effort and play from the 2015-16 freshmen. 

Freshman duo Seamus Malone and Luke Kunin already have 13 and 11 points respectively, with Malone leading the team in assists (10).

 

Mike Eaves has found his replacement for Joel Rumpel

Another freshman for Wisconsin, Matt Jurusik has settled in nicely to the starting role.He started the season splitting time with senior, Adam Miller, Jurusik has been the mainstay for the Badgers between the pipes.

With 14 starts under his belt, Jurusik posts a .900 save percentage allowing just 3.13 goals a game. It is far from perfect, but considering Jurusik was supposed to be a secondary option at best in 2015-16, he has more than risen to the occasion and the lead goaltender. 

 

Grant Besse is still Grant Besse

The junior standout from Plymouth, Minnesota once again is racking up points this season. He leads the team with 14 points already. He ended last season with 22 and is well on his way to the best statistical year here in Madison.

Most importantly, Besse looks to have the confidence needed and is meshing well with newcomers. Besse has taken on an important leadership role with his play and his vocal leadership. 

Oh, and he still has the best wrist shot on the ice. By far.

Mike Eaves, Himself

After a turbulent 2015, Eaves looks to have something going in this season. It may not end up being good enough for Barry to let him keep his job, but it is good enough to keep him there now. The players have trust in Eaves and the system and it is starting to show some results. That is a huge positive for Eaves’ confidence going into 2016.

 

While the Badgers may not be fighting for a national championship this year, or even a Big Ten championship, they look to stay competitive. This team has a lot of potential and will work hard to avoid being the laughing stock of the Big Ten once again.

Ultimately what fans are watching is a rebuild of a program, and 2016 looks to be a year of a lot of growth. Will it actually be enough to satisfy a fan base hungry for winning and championship hockey? That will ultimately 

Sawyer Bock

About Sawyer Bock

Sawyer is a Junior at UW-Madison majoring in Communication Arts and Journalism. He is a beat writer for the UW- Men's Hockey Team. You can catch him on UW-Madison's student radio WSUM where he hosts a sports talk show and broadcasts numerous varieties of Badger sports or on twitter @YoungSawyer_

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