Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Pavelski, Auffrey waste no time in collegiate debuts

[media-credit name=’AJ Maclean’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]Auffrey_AM_400[/media-credit]For the second straight season, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team has gotten a noticeable contribution during its opening weekend from a pair of freshmen forwards.

A year ago, it was Robbie Earl and Andrew Joudrey that combined for two goals and three assists. This year it has been Joe Pavelski and Matt Auffrey who have stepped into the spotlight in their first weekend with three goals and four assists between them.

Only time will tell if Auffrey and Pavelski can have the kind of first year success that Earl and Joudrey enjoyed, but it is clear that head coach Mike Eaves has not only been able to recruit incredibly talented freshmen, but also has been able to put them in positions to succeed.


“That was one weekend and I’m really happy for [Auffrey and Pavelski],” Eaves said. “But they have to be time tested.”

The pair of freshmen forwards may need to prove themselves over the long haul to consider the season a success, but without their contributions this weekend, the Badgers would likely have not swept the series.
After getting down 2-0 in Friday night’s game, it was Auffrey who scored the Badgers’ first goal of the night and assisted on Earl’s game winning goal in the third period. Pavelski was credited with assists on both plays.

“I was just excited to contribute and come back and win,” Auffrey said.

As captain Adam Burish pointed out, the freshmen need to play a big role just like all the other classes if this Wisconsin team is going to meet its high expectations.

“To have a successful team you have to have contribution from everybody, freshmen through to the seniors,” Burish said.

While having Auffrey and Pavelski play such an important role so early in the season may be a surprise to many outside of the Badger program, those around the team could see this kind of success coming.

“We saw it this summer,” Burish said. “They have that natural touch around the net and that natural ability to be in the right place at the right time.”

Even in the toughest situations, like being down 2-0 after a period in their first game, Auffrey and Pavelski played beyond their years.

“They don’t play like freshmen,” Burish said. “They’re so calm and collected, they’re so poised, so they don’t play like freshmen.”

Auffrey, who came to Wisconsin from the National Team Development Program, proved that he belonged at the collegiate level with a pair of goals and an assist in his first weekend of action. A sixth round draft pick of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks of the NHL, Auffrey has the combination of skill and size that makes him a dangerous player on both ends of the ice.

“Matthew [Auffrey], he’s a big body that can really skate,” Eaves said. “He has great hands for snapping the puck and shooting.”

While the same age as players that come to the college ranks straight from high school, his time at the NTDP certainly helped him develop far more than playing in high school would have.
“Definitely I couldn’t have done this out of high school,” Auffrey said. “Last year definitely helped me get a step and I kind of knew what the level was and what to expect.”

While his path led him through Waterloo of the USHL, Pavelski agreed with Auffrey on the fact that he wouldn’t have been ready to play right out of high school.

“It’s definitely a huge help playing those two seasons in the USHL,” Pavelski said. “You just gain maturity and become more of a leader.”

To go along with that maturity, Pavelski has incredible skill and heart.

“[Pavelski] has a nice set of hands,” Eaves said. “He sees the ice really well because he doesn’t have to handle the puck and he understands the game. Plus he really competes.”

Burish who plays on the same line as Pavelski agreed with Eaves’ assessment of the young forward, but took his praise even a step further after watching the youngster pick up a goal and three assists in his first weekend as a collegiate hockey player.

“He’s so skilled with the puck,” Burish said. “He knows what he’s going to do with it before he gets it. He’s kind of a step ahead out there.”

One of the best compliments that Eaves has paid his freshmen forwards was showing enough faith in them to put them with Robbie Earl on one of the power-play units. Auffrey and Pavelski proved Eaves’ faith was well placed as they were able to hook up on Auffrey’s power-play goal Friday night, and then worked in combination again to get Earl the game-winning power-play goal.

“Because of their skill set we wanted to give them the opportunity to see what they could do on the power-play,” Eaves said.

Pavelski said that Eaves’ faith in him was a real confidence booster.

“Whenever your boss puts confidence in you, you have to be even more confident in yourself.”

While Eaves isn’t ready to proclaim that Auffrey and Pavelski are going to be two of the best in Wisconsin history, he was satisfied with their first weekend in college hockey.

“They played to their strengths offensively,” Eaves said. “There’s a little detail work defensively that they need to shore up, but that’s to be expected. So they’re right where they should be.”

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