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

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