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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin opens season at home

Wisconsin hopes the return of Ben Street following iast season\’s injury will help it improve in 2009.[/media-credit]
It came down to the wire, but the Wisconsin men’s hockey team finally declared itself ready to start the 2009-10 season.

The Badgers begin their season tonight at home against Colorado College, but head coach Mike Eaves waited until yesterday to name junior Brett Bennett his starting goaltender.

Bennett, who played for the Indiana Ice of the USHL last season, was locked in a battle with fellow junior Scott Gudmandson for the spot. Eaves noted the competition was neck-and-neck until the final day of practice.


“On the last day, going down the last stretch of the race, Brett nosed ahead and the nod went to him,” Eaves said.

Bennett is one of the few new faces on what should be a largely familiar team to anyone who followed the Badgers last year. UW’s roster features 16 upperclassmen, including fifth-year senior captain Ben Street, who missed last season with an ACL tear.

Colorado College, on the other hand, brings a much less experienced squad to the Kohl Center, with nine freshmen on the roster. Freshmen Joe Howe and Hudson Stremmel form a goaltending rotation with junior Tyler O’Brien, as the Tigers have not yet settled on a No. 1 starter in net.

However, Colorado College started its season last weekend, splitting a series with No. 20 Northeastern, meaning the Tigers are already battle-tested this season.

“You take a look, they’ve had some exhibition games, we haven’t. So maybe that becomes a wash,” Eaves said. “Our veteranness, we hope will … balance that, the fact that [the Tigers have] played. But time will tell.”

After playing four consecutive road games to start the 2008-09 season, the Badgers get to open this season at home, where they went 12-8-2. Bennett, who played two years at Boston University, noted UW has a unique home-ice advantage.

“It’s interesting, in Hockey East, it’s more about 5,000 to 6,000 a crowd,” Bennett said. “But it’s pretty big here — I heard we have great fans.”

Bennett won’t concern himself with the 14,000 packed in the Kohl Center, though.

“I’m not really going to be interested in the fans — I’m worried about what [Colorado College] is doing. I guess the building and atmosphere will be a bonus.”

Starting the season at home might also help the Badgers overcome their tendency to drag their feet out of the gate.

UW’s 0-6-1 start to last year was a large reason they missed the NCAA Tournament by 0.0002 points in the RPI. Wisconsin’s veteran roster hopes familiarity and chemistry will give this season a better result.

“It’s really big actually for us, because every single year that I’ve been here, we’ve always started a little slow,” senior captain Blake Geoffrion said. “All those guys in the room pretty much know each other, with the few additions of the incoming freshman. We know what we like (and) what we do out there, so that’s definitely going to help as well.”

“I think that helps a lot in terms of some chemistry. Guys know what to expect out of guys,” junior forward Podge Turnbull said. “We’re really comfortable around each other and I think that helps. That’s one step to a championship team.”

While Bennett was fighting for the last roster spot for this weekend’s series, Turnbull was engaged in his own battle for ice time.

He beat out Michael Davies, UW’s third-leading goal scorer last year, for the second to last roster spot. Eaves said the competition for playing time will be tough all year, and Turnbull thinks that may be a good thing.

“I think the good thing about the whole ice-time situation is everybody’s competing for a spot. That’s gonna make our team better,” Turnbull said. “Just everybody wanting it, to be a part of a Friday-Saturday night tandem … is kind of what’s been driving everybody to get better.”

The Badgers will be able to justify that stronger competition has made them better if they can beat the Tigers, who are 7-1 against UW over the last eight meetings. Despite Colorado College’s recent dominance, Wisconsin is 105-57-8 all-time against the Tigers, with 55 of the wins coming in Madison.

However, Turnbull is not too concerned about Colorado College’s two-game head start on Wisconsin or anything to do with the Tigers at all.

“I don’t really know what [Colorado College] brought to the table, but I know we’ve been working real hard in practice,” Turnbull said. “Guys are real jumpy and real antsy to get after it on Friday.”

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