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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Old face, new coach helps UW goalies

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For the first few weeks of the season, Wisconsin goaltenders Shane Connelly and Scott Gudmandson actually had to pay for their coaching. To make matters worse, they had to travel off campus once or twice a week to take advantage of the services of goalie coach Mike Valley.

But those days are no more, as Valley will now be working with the team on campus as a volunteer assistant coach on Mike Eaves’ staff. He fills a void left by former assistant Bill Howard, who stepped down as goalie coach in the offseason after 36 years with Wisconsin.


A former Badger goaltender himself — he played 33 games in net for UW from 1996 to 1998 — Valley was previously employed by Next Testing, an elite testing service that uses scientific methods to assess hockey talent. But since he dealt with potential recruits, Valley had to quit his job with Next Testing to join his alma mater, a choice that didn’t come easy.

“I’m a volunteer coach; it’s not something that puts food on the table,” Valley said. “For me, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve enjoyed working with guys like [former Badger Brian] Elliott and [former Michigan goalie] Al Montoya in the summer time. But to be in a full-time position is something I’ve wanted to do.”

“The big thing for me is he’s been in my shoes,” Connelly said. “He knows what we’re going through. It’s not that long ago that he was doing this.”

Eaves doesn’t foresee much change as far as the relationship between Valley and the goaltenders, since he had already gotten familiar with them early in the season.

“He’s been working with them,” Eaves said. “It’s a matter of repetition for them. It’s not like he’s starting now. He’s got a running start.”

The two Badger goaltenders have gotten off to less than ideal beginnings in the 2008-09 season. Connelly has allowed 4.45 goals per game and is 0-3-1 in four starts, while Gudmandson’s 0-2 record stems from the 6.03 GAA he has experienced in two starts in net.

However, Eaves knows that bringing Valley on staff won’t mean an instant fix.

“The proof and the cure will be everything coming together,” Eaves said.

Valley admitted it had become tough for him and the Badger netminders to effectively work together now that the season is underway. Now that he’ll be with the team on a regular basis, however, that should change.

“Having the goaltenders work away from the rink is something that works in the beginning of the season when they had more captains practice,” Valley said. “But now that they’re busy with their school and with limited practice time, it really helps them out for me to be able to come out on the ice three to four times a week. It’s a positive thing for the goaltenders because you can provide a little bit more mentorship.”

“It’s all about getting reps on the ice,” Connelly said. “When there’s dead time, he’s flying over there and doing a quick drill with us. Or, at the end today, working on different stuff. It should take my game to the next level.”

Valley has been impressed with what he’s seen in Connelly so far, noting the senior’s high confidence level despite facing a high number of shots in his first four games.

“I think Shane’s been really good,” Valley said. “Friday’s game (against Minnesota), he stopped 34 shots and played really well and helped us get that point. Obviously, we wanted the win, but we got a point out of it. In Denver he saw 52 shots and has been really, really comfortable.

“I talked to Shane about those. Even though he’s seen a lot of shots, even though he’s seen a lot of opportunities, he has to find a way to make that extra save to keep us in it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 2-on-l, it doesn’t matter if it’s a breakaway. Our job as a goaltender is to come up with that save. Shane’s got to find a way to come up with that save.”

But as his team is still winless heading into a weekend series against North Dakota, how have these early games affected Connelly’s confidence?

“It’s really good. You confident right now?” Valley asked Connelly as he walked past his coach after practice.

“Absolutely,” Connelly responded.

“His confidence is real high,” Valley said. “His practices have been really good, his games have been really good. It’s just a matter of getting everything to click now, not only in goal but all over the ice, and that’s coming. It’s a young team, and it’s been a tough start against some good competition.

“The nice thing is the guys’ attitudes are up and they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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