Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Erickson: Behind 1-3 mark, lots to be optimistic about

It’s been said the Wisconsin men’s hockey team is young and inexperienced.

So far this season the Badgers have won only one of their four games. The three losses were all a result of an overtime goal. So while we can sit here and say 1-3 is terrible, we have to keep in mind how close those games actually were.

For a young and inexperienced team that has little-to-no expectations outside its own locker room, fighting for those wins into overtime is impressive, especially considering all three games were situations where UW had to come from behind to tie it up.

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Sure they’d rather be winning, but a little adversity never hurt the Badgers.

“I think it’s definitely motivation,” freshman forward Joseph LaBate said. “I think it’s how the coaches handle it and how the team handles it – you know the captains and the older guys. We could be 4-0. We’ve lost three OT games and that’s frustrating, but you’ve got to look at it like it’s just one goal. It’s the beginning of the season, it’s a long season and it just matters how good you are at the end of the season, and I think we’re on the right track.”

It’s only the beginning of the season, but through four games Wisconsin doesn’t look like the strongest hockey team on paper. But what stats and standing don’t reveal is how close the Badgers are to exceeding expectations.

None of their losses have been blowouts. In Wisconsin’s case, it just hasn’t been able to net that golden goal yet.

Instead of getting overly discouraged by their bad luck and inconsistent offense, the Badgers aren’t focusing on what has happened, rather they just want to move forward.

According to head coach Mike Eaves, his team isn’t even aware they’ve faced adversity this early in the season.

“I don’t think they’re aware of the adversity, I just think that they want to get better,” Eaves said. “The adversity is the fact that when you look on paper, we’re 1-3, but if you watch film, we’ve done some good things and we’ve done some things we know we can get better at. I don’t think they look at it as anything other than an opportunity, to quote Bret [Bielema], to be 1-0 on Friday. And that’s been the best mentality to have.”

And it’s a mentality they’ll have to work to keep.

Playing in the WCHA is no easy feat, especially for a team full of youngsters. But for the freshmen on this particular squad, losses early on can actually be a good thing.

“I think it has a positive impact because they really don’t know any better right now,” defenseman John Ramage said. “It’s only the first four games of college, so I think it will have a positive effect and something to learn from.”

They aren’t fighting or focusing on the losses and letting them affect their play. The Badgers are simply trying to build off what they’ve achieved so far.

Given the length of the season, Wisconsin will have to work hard to completely adopt a 1-0 mentality, especially if the struggle to get the puck in the net continues.

But instilling it now and working to score those game-winners, there’s a lot of unknown potential that awaits this Badger squad.

They’re inconsistent, showing moments of great resiliency and moments of complete breakdowns.

The simple fact that they were able to come from behind in each game so far to either win or push it into overtime suggests the Badgers not only have the ability to win, but a drive to always get at the puck and make something happen.

It’ll be exciting to see how Wisconsin performs once it has some more experience and a couple more wins to its name. Potential exists. It’s just a matter of molding that potential into a competitive unit.

“Playing in three OT games, that’s pretty special,” LaBate said. “Not a lot of guys would say that right off the bat. I think that’s pretty exciting. Obviously I am very frustrated to be 1-3 right now, but you can’t really think too hard about it because it’s over and done with – just got to work towards the next game … and get the win.”

So while a 25 percent winning percentage may make others cringe, the Badgers are embracing it, which is the best approach they could possibly take.

It’s a rebuilding year, but the mentality and attitude this team holds has miniscule signs of frustration and a marked hunger to keep moving forward.

Kelly is a junior majoring in journalism. What are your thoughts on Wisconsin’s play through four games? Let her know what you think at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @kellyerickson4.

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