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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers back to goaltender shuffle

Wisconsin men’s hockey head coach Mike Eaves thought he’d have settled on a No. 1 goaltender at this point in the season. But after Scott Gudmandson’s shaky performance last weekend, Eaves and his goaltenders are back to the drawing board.

“Things didn’t go as planned,” Eaves said in his Monday press conference. “So now we go back, they both go back to square one.”

But just how important is the goalie to a team’s success? According to Eaves and hockey coaches everywhere, nothing is more important.


“In the sport of hockey, a goaltender can steal you a series, they can steal you a cup, they can steal you a national championship,” Eaves said. “It is very unique in this sport that one position can do that.”

Eaves has been trying to find one man to fill this critical role for the Badgers, and throughout the season he has alternated between two junior goaltenders — Gudmandson and Brett Bennett — hoping that one would eventually emerge.

Unfortunately, that has yet to happen, and it has been an up-and-down season for both netminders.

When Bennett went down with a shoulder injury in the week leading up to the North Dakota series in December, Gudmandson was the only option. The Alberta native stepped up and was the main reason UW took three points from the Fighting Sioux.

After that UND series, it seemed as though UW had found its answer in the crease, as Gudmandson was given both starts in Colorado Springs even after Bennett returned from injury. But Gudmandson was pulled after a shaky four-goal first period against the Tigers in game two, and as a result, Eaves had Bennett finish the game.

The following weekend, the Badgers went back to a two-goalie system, with Gudmandson now starting game one and Bennett stepping in for game two, but that all changed after a series in Duluth.

Gudmandson led the Badgers to a 5-2 lead in game one, but Bennett was pulled after three minutes in game two as the Bulldogs scored two quick goals and forced Eaves to make a change.

For Bennett, that night in Duluth was a wake-up call.

“I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to mentally prepare better,” Bennett said following the 4-0 loss. “I know I can play at this level. I know I can play better. I just have to show it.”

But would Bennett get another chance to show his merit?

Gudmandson started the Camp Randall Classic, but Bennett was given one more opportunity in game two of the following series against Minnesota State, and he delivered his first win in over a month.

“That win felt great,” Bennett said. “I felt really good that game. It was awesome and hopefully I can get back in there.”

After Gudmandson’s outing this past weekend, it appears a goaltender rotation will reappear.

“More than likely, I’ll tell you this right now, we’ll probably split goaltenders this weekend,” Eaves said Monday.

In the series against St. Cloud, Gudmandson was given an opportunity to separate himself and prove he was ready to be this team’s go-to goaltender.

But bad bounces led to a lot of goals in the UW net, and they led Eaves to reconsider anointing Gudmandson the No. 1.

“A lot of the goals were bad bounces, and that was frustrating,” Gudmandson said. “Letting nine goals in during a weekend is tough.”

“It was uncharacteristic for him. I have no explanation for it because he has been so darn good for us. I hope it was just a bump in the road,” Eaves said.

The Huskies scored on a wrap-around, on an impossible angle from deep in the corner and off a failed clearing attempt from Gudmandson, but the junior says he has already put that weekend behind him.

“The biggest thing is forgetting about it and I think that is a huge difference in the goalie and the person that I have become,” Gudmandson said. “I have that short memory now and I can move on from those goals. I have proven how good of a goalie I can be. Everybody is going to have those nights — I’m not going to lose sleep over it.”

Eaves might be the one losing sleep, as his goaltending situation continues to fluctuate.

The rotation won’t continue into the postseason — Eaves has made it clear he plans on settling on one goaltender for the stretch run.

But with two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Badgers have a lingering question mark between the pipes. And with Gudmandson struggling, Bennett is doing all he can to give the coaching staff an answer.

“You want to be there for your teammates,” Bennett said. “You want to be the guy in the net and hopefully down the road that will be me.”

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