Eaves readies for trip to Bemidji State

first_imgWisconsin’ Landon Peterson received praise from head coach Mike Eaves for his performance last weekend. He made 22 saves and allowed two goals in Saturday’s game against Denver.[/media-credit]The last time Wisconsin men’s hockey head coach Mike Eaves visited Bemidji State, he was coach at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.The locker room at Bemidji was so small he had to split up his team into groups and address each separately prior to the game.“It was the old barn,” Eaves said in his Monday press conference. “It was beat up; it was a home-court advantage.”This time around should be a bit more comfortable for Eaves, as Bemidji State opened a new arena in 2010. However, Bemidji will still look to capitalize on home ice (where the Beavers have posted an 11-4-1 record this season) with the crowd planning a “white-out weekend” against the Badgers.The Badgers (13-15-2 overall, 8-14-2 WCHA) are positioned to tie for 10th place in the WCHA and are three points behind Bemidji State. With two wins this weekend, the Badgers could overtake the Beavers for ninth place in the conference standings. But with only four more games remaining in the season, the Badgers are readying for playoff hockey.“The way we played, I think the guys have a real sense of where we need to go,” Eaves said. “It’s just all about being playoff-ready.”Looking to build upon last Saturday’s 5-2 win over 10th ranked Denver, the Badgers are making a final push to polish their game and end the season strongly. After losing five straight games before Saturday night (the longest losing streak of the season), Eaves stressed that the Badgers’ level of play needs to be indicative of Saturday’s effort.“You know, we just need to play like we played on Saturday,” Eaves said. “Small sheet, big sheet, I don’t think that is really relevant anymore.”Nonetheless, Wisconsin has not won a road game since Jan. 13, perhaps indicative of the lack of experience on the team. The Badgers only have one senior on the roster in defenseman Eric Springer to go along with one road victory on the entire season.If the Badgers want to win a game come playoff time, it will have to come on the road because at this point they cannot obtain home ice during the playoffs. Eaves remains optimistic about his youthful group, however, and hopes to gain Wisconsin’s second and third road wins this weekend.“I look forward to it,” Eaves said. “I know they play well at home.”According to Eaves, freshman goaltender Landon Peterson played well in the victory against Denver. Heading into the playoffs, the Badgers will likely need similar contributions from underclassmen to overcome their inexperience. Eaves was also proud of the way Peterson commanded the game throughout.“I’m glad he got the win,” Eaves said. “He’s played pretty well for us this year. He had good command of the net, he challenged the puck, [he was] very authoritative. … He did a nice job; it was nice that he got the win.”Although it will be quite a while before the Badger faithful can watch the men’s hockey team at the Kohl Center again, Badger fans can look forward to the newly named “Bob Johnson Rink.” The rink was named in honor of Hockey Hall of Famer and former Wisconsin head coach Bob Johnson, who played hockey at UW and later coached the Badgers to three NCAA championships. He also coached in the NHL and led the U.S. in international competitions, most notably the 1976 Olympics.Eaves remarked he was very excited about the naming of the rink and noted Johnson was integral to the development and success of the Wisconsin hockey program today.“What pops out in my mind the most was his passion and enthusiasm for the game,” Eaves said. “His passion was exactly what was needed in this city to get it going. … He was the perfect guy because of his energy and his passion for the game.”last_img

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