The immense hard work of Wisconsin Hockey’s recruitment has finally paid off. Freshman forward Cole Caufield is climbing the ladder towards becoming the Badger’s newest shining star.
Caufield led all NCAA freshmen with eight goals in October and also had a seven game stretch during which he scored ten points. On top of this, Caufield led freshmen in goals per game (1.14), power-play goals (three) and shots on goal (31, 4.43 per game).
As of Nov. 8, 2019, the Hockey Commissioners Association officially named Caufield the national rookie of the month.
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Having grown up in Stevens Point with a strong hockey bloodline, Caufield was perfectly primed to rise toward the top. Once his mother purchased his first pair of skates, there was no turning back, according to the U.S. National Team Development Program.
“I started playing hockey when I was two,” Caufield said. “My brother Brock, who is two years older than me, was skating at the time and I was watching him. My mom told me that I cried to her and begged her to skate. That is where it all started.”
When it came time for Caufield to choose where he would continue his future in both hockey and academics, he simply couldn’t say no to the University of Wisconsin. Today, both Brock and Cole Caufield play alongside each other in the Kohl Center as teammates and proud Badgers.
“I mean, My parents are probably the happiest that we are together, and it’s great just having [Brock] around,” Caufield said. “He’s someone who’s always there for me. We’ve always been pretty close and it’s good to be back with him.”
In the 2019 NHL Draft, Caufield was selected as a 15th overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens. Even with the promise of a spot in the upper echelon of professional hockey, Caufield chose to bring his talents to Madison.
Despite competing at the collegiate level for only a few months, he’s shaping up to be quite a success. Caufield certainly believes his lack of experience hasn’t hampered his ability to perform.
“There’s obviously bigger guys here who are older, but it’s nothing too crazy, it’s still hockey,” Caufield said. “The experience I had last year playing against some colleges, and just the time I’ve spent here this year is not too much of an adjustment, but they’re for sure older and stronger and have a bit more experience.”
The Badgers are 5-5 overall in the early days of this 2019-20 season, with a notable series sweep against University of Minnesota-Duluth. In a series against the University of Nebraska Omaha in which Badgers went 1-1, Cole Caufield showed no mercy.
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Even in a game the Badgers lost, Caufield managed to put up some impressive numbers. He led the Badgers with 12 total shot attempts. Five of these shots were on target and six were fired off at even strength.
It’s no secret this rookie possesses talent and potential that will take him far — even this is only the beginning. So far, Caufield is successfully establishing himself as a collegiate-level player on this team and further strengthening the inseparable bonds between fellow teammates.
“Everyone’s really close with everybody,” Caufield said. “I think that’s what makes our team so special, we’ve grown so close and we all have each other’s backs. We’re there for one another whenever, and it’s a pretty special feeling.”
After a two week stretch of away games early in the season, Caufield looked forward to returning back to the insatiably hungry fan base in the Kohl Center where the Badgers, especially the Crease Creatures, call home.
For him, the energy of the stadium and the fans who fill it bring a significant amount of benefit to him and the Badgers as a whole. This is especially true against teams that pose a serious challenge to the Badgers as they fight for a successful season.
“Playing at home is awesome,” Caufield said. “It’s great when there’s a lot of people in the crowd too, I think there’s a different energy with our team just being able to play in front of people, and in front of our fans. It’s a great place to play and we are all looking forward to it. Notre Dame is a good team, so we’ve gotta come here and play.”
Wisconsin will face undefeated Notre Dame in the Kohl Center at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 for their jersey night game. Fans who show up wearing a hockey jersey will have the chance to win a signed jersey by a former Badger hockey player.
The Badgers will conclude the series at the same time Saturday, Nov. 16.
Taking down the undefeated Fighting Irish will surely not be an easy task for the 5-5 Badgers. With wins against other Big Ten Conference contenders such as Minnesota and The Ohio State University under Notre Dame’s belt, the Badgers will have to put up a strong and consistent fight to keep strong hopes of reaching the playoffs alive.