Men’s hockey hoping to continue win streak

first_imgKRIS UGARRIZA/Herald photoHoping to carry over the momentum from a three-game winning streak, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team will travel north for a two-game series against WCHA opponent Minnesota-Duluth.The Bulldogs are 4-3-2 overall, but they have only posted a 1-3-1 mark in the WCHA.“None of that stuff really matters to us,” junior forward Blake Geoffrion said. “Any team can win on any given night. Duluth is a good team, they always have a good team, and they have a good coach.”For the season, the Badgers (3-6-1, 3-4-1 WCHA) are averaging 3.4 goals per game, including nine total goals scored last weekend in a sweep over Michigan Tech. Six of those goals came from a UW power play, including two from captain Geoffrion.“It is a real simple play, but teams are starting to pressure now,” Geoffrion said. “They are leaving guys open, and the guy who is open is the guy in front of the net. Guys have been getting their shots through, and they have been going off me. It may have been kind of lucky, but it is good for us.”The UW special teams have experienced success all season, converting 20 percent of the time with a man advantage and killing penalties at a 90 percent clip.For head coach Mike Eaves, however, the Badgers need to produce more when both teams are at full strength. To try spark that change, Eaves has shuffled the lines for UMD.“When we went back this week, we thought the power play is doing real well offensively, but what can we do to stimulate something five on five?” Eaves said. “The discussion came up that [Patrick Johnson, Matt Thurber and Jordy Murray] were good together, and let’s see if they can come up with the magic they had that one game.”The Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center may present a challenge for Eaves’ team, because the Bulldogs use a smaller rink than the Badgers are used to at the Kohl Center. While the lack of space may affect the flow of the game, UW did win earlier this year at a small rink when it played North Dakota.“I think our record is pretty good over the years we have been there,” Eaves said. “I think we are very comfortable on a small rink. It won’t be an issue.”The Badgers picked up a victory last Friday, largely because they were able to jump on MTU early in the game. Coming out with the same energy will go a long way to helping UW win their second road game of the season.“We have made the analogy with our players that a hockey game is like a 400-meter race,” Eaves said. “When you come out of the blocks you want to get off to a great start. Going down the backstretch you want to stride it out and keep your rhythm. And then coming home you just open it up and finish strong.”Eaves’ team will be challenged by a talented, albeit unusual, goaltender in UMD’s Alex Stalock. The Bulldogs’ net minder is not shy about straying away from the net to play the puck, and the Badgers could get burned if they are not careful.“I think we just try to be mindful of it,” Geoffrion said of Stalock. “He plays the puck really well. … We are aware of that, and we need to try and keep the puck away from him as much as possible.”For the UW players, keeping the momentum from the recent win streak is all they are focusing on.“It is all about our mindset,” Geoffrion said. “We are going into our first road game in a week, and we have to come out hard and keep it simple out there. We need to get pucks and bodies towards the net and click on all cylinders since we are in someone else’s building.”last_img