Eaves happy to use 2 in crease

first_imgPatrick Johnson will be looking to bounce back to his freshman form after a rough sophomore season.[/media-credit]After missing the NCAA playoffs last year, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team looks to open this season on a more positive note at home against Colorado College this weekend.Friday’s contest marks the first time the Badgers have begun the year at home since 2005-06 and they will play at the Kohl Center four out of the first five weekends of the season. Head coach Mike Eaves hopes for a dramatically different start for his team. Last year, the Badgers went on the road for six of their first eight matchups and posted a disappointing 1-6-1 record.“I think it will be a confidence builder for our kids to start at home, to get going, to have those home fans and enthusiasm and to be in the Kohl Center,” Eaves said of opening the season in Madison. “We are looking for that to be an advantage for us.”Goaltenders in competitionOne sure thing about the 2009-10 team is the goaltender position is anything but clear. The competition centers around transfer Brett Bennett and junior Scott Gudmandson. Gudmandson saw action in six games last season, allowing 14 goals and recording a save percentage of .881.Eaves, however, sees the uncertainty at one of the game’s most critical positions as a positive for his club and plans to use both Bennett and Gudmandson interchangeably for as long as necessary.“I think that as time goes on in the early part of the season, we’ll be able to read our two goaltenders and see where they are and go from there. But I think that if they are close, it could create a very good, very competitive situation,” Eaves said.“This is a new year,” Eaves went on to add. “But basically you’re looking at two guys vying for a position and it’s a very competitive situation and I think in the end it will push them to be better. Ultimately, by the end of the year, we will have to make a decision as to who steps up, but as of right now, we are very comfortable with what’s going on.”Badgers more experiencedFor the first time since the 2005-06 season, Eaves will be coaching what is considered an upperclass team as it returns seven seniors and nine juniors, but he believes team chemistry remains the one of the most important factors in finding success.“What we are able to accomplish, whether it is with an upperclassmen team or an underclassmen team, is a fact of how this group comes together,” Eaves said. “Can we take this group of individuals and mold them into a team that gives them the ultimate competitive edge? That’s one of our huge challenges this year.”“It’s about us. It’s about how this group comes together as a team. Through the course of this year, we’re going to have to find that moment when this group of individuals finds that moment of ownership. We can talk about it at great lengths, but once the rubber hits the road, we’re going to have to see when that moment is and if we can take advantage of it.”Eaves hopes that senior forward Andy Bombach, who scored 10 goals and recorded 15 assists last season, will assume a more influential role on the team. He also looks to junior Patrick Johnson to rebound from a three-goal, four-assist season and return to his dynamic freshman form when he posted 21 total points.“I think Andy Bombach is ready to step up, and Patrick Johnson, we know we can get more from him based on his freshman year,” Eaves said. “There’s a group of kids that we think can step up and be really effective and based on what we have seen so far in practice, that’s going to take place and that’s an exciting factor for us.”last_img read more

Alexander: Right now, is there any doubt L.A.’s a basketball town?

first_img• None of this changes the nature of fan support in SoCal, which remains heavily pro-Lakers. Legacy fans, you might call them. We could call it peculiar to the area, but as Turner Sports’ Stan Van Gundy pointed out, there’s a similar imbalance in New York between the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets.• SoCal is sometimes strange in its allegiances, to be sure. The proportion of Dodgers fans to Angels fans is primarily geographical because the Angels are an Orange County franchise regardless of what Arte Moreno wants them to be called. The same is true of the Kings-Ducks relationship.• And in football … well, I hate to say it, and I know Chargers executives won’t like it, but didn’t it seem like there were at least as many people rooting for them in Nashville this past Sunday as there were in Carson the previous Sunday?• The process of rebuilding the fan bases of L.A.’s two NFL teams is difficult enough. Explain to me, then, why it makes sense for the schedule-makers to have both teams pretty much out of town for a huge block in the middle of the schedule.• This is, in part, due to the league’s insistence on regular-season international games, and the fact that both the Rams and Chargers have had to donate one home game each year to the effort to sell tickets and merchandise in England and Mexico. Yes, there are many facets to the desire to milk as much revenue out of the international audience as possible (and trust me, the NBA is discovering the complications in its dealings with China) Alexander: Playoff series takes a turn Clippers weren’t expecting The world according to Jim:• If it weren’t for a certain someone who couldn’t manage his relief pitching effectively two Wednesdays ago, we might have been spending the days leading up to Tuesday evening debating if this is a baseball town or a basketball town.• Right now, of course, there is no debate. The World Series opens in Houston, but the center of attention in L.A. is Staples Center and the start of the season-long passion play involving the Lakers and Clippers, who play the first of their four scheduled regular-season meetings.• Is L.A. the basketball capital of the world, or at least of the NBA? You decide. ESPN’s NBA nerve center has been located in its L.A. Live studios for some time. But the networks who cover the NBA will spend an inordinate amount of time with L.A.’s teams – each of the four Lakers-Clippers meetings will air nationally, and combined the teams will account for 76 national games between ESPN, TNT, ABC and NBATV. (For those keeping score, the Lakers are scheduled for 42, the Clippers 38.) Moreover, a number of print and digital media outlets will have a full-time presence in L.A., or close to it. Alexander: Baseball’s ‘unwritten rules’ need to be erased Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error • Zlatan Ibrahimović said it after that game: “I enjoy when I play against them. I enjoy to play in this stadium. … The stadium is too small for me here, but I make the stadium bounce anyway. It looks awful big when I play here.”• Buckle up. LAFC and the Galaxy will be playing downtown Thursday night, win or go home in a Western Conference semifinal. LAFC finished 21 points ahead of the Galaxy in the standings, but the Galaxy is 2-0-3 in the two-year-old series. So there might be a bit of anxiety for the higher seed and its fans.• Ibrahimović has scored eight of the Galaxy’s 13 goals in the five matches, five of them in this year’s two meetings. And he has supplied enough bold talk, including the famous “Ferrari among Fiats” line from earlier this season, to power this derby almost by himself.• If this is indeed the end of the line here for Zlatan, who might be headed back to Europe, we’ll miss him. (LAFC probably won’t, but that’s another story.)jalexander@scng.com@Jim_Alexander on Twittercenter_img Alexander: Lakers-Blazers is not your typical No. 1 vs. No. 8 series Alexander: Lakers fans, it’s been a long wait • The view here, in the case of the NFL: If the league really had a clue about the uphill battle the Rams, and especially the Chargers, have in igniting civic passion and getting fans back on board, they’d make games here a priority as opposed to London and Mexico City.• Instead, the folks at 345 Park Avenue, the NFL’s corporate offices in Manhattan, figure a new stadium will solve all the problems. Memo to Roger Goodell and his lieutenants: Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.• As a result, the Rams have a full month between Coliseum appearances, their next one a Nov. 17 Sunday night game against the Bears. The Chargers are home once in an eight-week span, Nov. 3 against the Packers (and guess who will be supplying the noise that day).• So yes, it’s a basketball town.• But is it maybe a little bit of heresy to say Lakers-Clippers isn’t the best L.A. rivalry this week? Not if you’re an MLS fan.• Remember when LAFC and the Galaxy played in late August, at Banc of California Stadium, and LAFC rallied from a 3-1 deficit to earn a tie? The second-year team was en route to the Supporters Shield as best regular-season team – even then it was evident they were the league’s dominant team – and the Galaxy was still battling for a spot in the postseason.Related Articles Alexander: Coping with the desolation, and silence, of empty seats last_img read more