BEN CLASSON/Herald photoThe low drone of the Zamboni resurfacing the ice was the only thing that could be heard in the otherwise deserted Kohl Center. Long gone were the members of the Wisconsin men’s hockey team, who after a hard practice changed and went on with their Wednesday routine. But high above the ice, on the JumboTron, the team’s new perspective on the season remained: Badgers 4, Pioneers 0.While the scoreboard may be wishful thinking on the part of UW as it prepares for the actual game Saturday, it is a reminder that the Badgers plan on taking advantage of the second chance — an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament — they were given. The fact that they earned it against Denver is somewhat ironic.“We should have a group of guys that are really hungry and anxious to redeem themselves,” senior captain Davis Drewiske said. “There are a lot of people who think we don’t deserve to be here, so we have a lot to prove.”A three-game losing streak that first eliminated the chance of home ice for Wisconsin in the WCHA Tournament and then knocked them out of the same tournament, coupled with a sub-.500 record (15-16-7) indicate that the team didn’t exactly storm into this weekend’s Midwest regional at the Kohl Center.“That doesn’t matter now,” Drewiske said. “We’re in.”By contrast, Denver (26-13-1) has won four straight games and took home the WCHA Tournament Championship trophy in the process.Again, UW coach Mike Eaves said, how the team got to the regional and the success Denver has had against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center (11-1-2) don’t really matter. It’s a new season.“Everybody is 0-0,” Eaves said during a press conference Monday. “There are no wins and no losses, and it’s purely a 1-0 mentality now.”Assistant captain Ben Street said taking one game at a time has been a challenge for Wisconsin, which has fallen into “Friday night funks” on several occasions this season.“You can’t look past any games,” Street said. “Sometimes we weren’t very good Friday and we came back Saturday. If we do that (this weekend), there is no more Saturday anymore, in this case, Sunday.”What’s more, UW will be playing just its fifth game in 35 days Saturday, and based on its last performance following a week off — the first game of the WCHA Tournament versus St. Cloud State two weeks ago — there could be some rust in the axles. Knowing what’s at stake, Eaves put his team on the ice more often and longer this week. But even practicing hard isn’t the same as playing in a game.“This is the time of year where you just want to play, you don’t really want to practice,” Drewiske said.Beyond getting the rust out of their games, the Badgers devoted large portions of practice to special teams. Much of Wisconsin’s success this season derives from the power play, while Denver has been extremely reliant on its penalty kill, which ranks fourth nationally. And in this single-elimination tournament, the man-advantage could be the difference.“Their penalty kill and our power play is going to be a huge part of the game,” Drewiske said.Defensively, Drewiske said, Denver is tough. Goaltender Peter Mannino came on of late and has allowed a trim 2.19 goals per 60 minutes.“They’ve tightened up the ship a little bit and they’re going to be a hard team to play against,” Drewiske said.Part of the reason why Wisconsin was put in such a difficult situation — having to hold out hope that the pieces would fall into place and it would earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since winning the championship in 2006 — was a controversial loss in early January against Denver.Had forward Matt Ford’s game-tying goal before the final horn sounded counted, the Badgers might have been a shoe-in for the postseason. Wisconsin got a bit of revenge the following night against Denver, winning 7-2, but a win this weekend would be even sweeter.Playing before the Kohl Center crowd for the first time since mid-February will also be a nice change of pace for Wisconsin.“It’s nice that we don’t have to travel, we get to sleep in our own beds and just focus on hockey,” freshman Ryan McDonagh said.If Wisconsin wins Saturday, it would move on to play either Princeton or North Dakota in the Regional Final Sunday.“We’re playing hockey this late in the season; we’re just happy to have that chance,” Street said.
[View the story “Syracuse community reacts to Sweet 16 berth” on Storify] Comments Published on March 20, 2016 at 8:23 pm Facebook Twitter Google+
Published on November 10, 2017 at 4:46 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ With so much turnover and returning just one starter from last season’s squad, the Orange got a quick glimpse on what it could be this season on Friday night. The Orange (1-0) got major contributions from newcomers and dominated on the offensive glass to defeat Morgan State (0-1), 95-68, in the season-opener. You can check out our best shots from the game below. Comments