The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team faces yet another young coach this weekend when it travels to Alaska.
In a sport that traditionally features long-tenured head coaches, Wisconsin will face off against another team with a new head coach. The Badgers have already seen one first year head coach and another second year coach this season.
Yet, the dilemma of uncertainty should at least be partially erased, as this first-year head coach has not tried to hide his priorities for his new team.
“The identity of Seawolf hockey will be based on a relentless work ethic,” Alaska-Anchorage head coach John Hill said. “Every player can play with hard work and discipline. That is the beginning of Seawolf pride.”
Hill is in his first season at the helm of the Seawolves, and has brought aboard new assistants as well. A native of Anchorage, he has vowed to turn the Seawolves into the hardest working and most disciplined team in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and also one of the most aggressive ones.
Hill has also brought size to his team through recruiting, in an effort to make Alaska-Anchorage more physical, in a mold similar to that of Minnesota, where he was an assistant coach prior to being named head coach at UAA in April.
However, even with the new coaching staff the Seawolves (2-8-2, 1-6-1) have looked much the same as last year, when they limped through a 7-24-5 campaign.
UAA has struggled thus far this season, and any attempt by Alaska-Anchorage or Hill at using size or aggression against Wisconsin might backfire as they have been staples of the UW program, and no one does them better than the Badgers.
Hill has brought two assistants with him: Jack Kowal comes aboard in his first assistant coaching position, while Chad Meyhoff volunteers as the goaltender coach. Martin Bakula, the other assistant, returns for his second season with the program. All three are UAA alums.
Chance to move up:
After the Badgers’ two losses last weekend in the College Hockey Showcase, Wisconsin’s series against Alaska Anchorage becomes vital if the Badgers have any outside shot at a conference championship.
The Badgers are currently stuck in fifth place in the conference, but a pair of wins in Anchorage would probably move the team past North Dakota and into fourth place. UND (4-3-1 WCHA) sits one point ahead of Wisconsin in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings, but faces a Minnesota State-Mankato squad this week that battled them to a tie on Nov. 17.
Also, North Dakota has played one more series than the Badgers have, playing a total of eight conference games, compared to UW’s six.
Leading the conference in points is St. Cloud State (18 points-10 games), followed by Denver (12 points-6 games) and Minnesota (11 points-6 games).