Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s hockey looks to build off season’s first win with start of Big Ten play

Laena Carroll

Fresh off of their first win of the season, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team will look to keep that momentum going as they open Big Ten play this weekend at home against Penn State.

Wisconsin (1-8-1) enters Friday and Saturday nights’ games with the Nittany Lions (7-4-2) following a productive series against Ferris State. The Badgers tied Ferris State 1-1 last Friday, winning the shootout after overtime that would not count toward their official record. The following night Wisconsin captured their first official win of the season, defeating the Bulldogs 5-3.

UW senior forward Joseph LaBate believes the Badgers are finally getting in their comfort zone after ten games.


“Things are starting to click,” LaBate said. “We’re kind of getting over the hump of getting some of the rust off. We’re starting to get in that groove and starting to find each other more on the ice and get our confidence going.”

Despite last week’s tie and win, it has been a tough start for the Badgers, who started the season with an eight game losing streak. However, the team believes that the start of conference play will allow them to move on and get a new start following their early season struggles. LaBate believes this weekend’s series is the start of a new season.

“One thing that sticks out to me is that we’re going into Big Ten with a 0-0 record, so it’s kind of just a clean slate,” LaBate said. “We look at it like we’re going in 0-0, and hopefully we can play pretty good hockey and try to get a win.”

UW starting senior goaltender Joel Rumpel added that last week’s win has instilled a fresh sense of confidence and eagerness to keep improving in the Badger locker room.

“We learned from the earlier season games and now we can use that going into the Big Ten with a clean slate,” Rumpel explained. “It’s a nice new energy in the locker room. Hopefully you’ll see it out on the ice.”

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves added that Big Ten games seem to have a little bit more of an edge to them than the rest. Eaves said that the student atmosphere at the games is enhanced due to the familiarity with the schools they play.

“I think it’s the rivalries,” Eaves said. “It’s schools that we play in basketball, football, wrestling, so there’s a common knowledge of the schools in the Big Ten. For our students that come and watch that might not know hockey, they still know Penn State, Ohio State, so that tends to bring them out too.”

After getting a win and tie following losses in their first eight games, Eaves believes the area where his team has come the furthest since the start of the season is protecting the puck in both their own blue line and the opponent’s blue line, which he also said heavily affects the outcome of games.

“I will say this to my last breath, but that stat is the one that’s the telling tale of whether you’re going to be successful in a game or not,” Eaves said.

Even with the Badgers’ fresh confidence heading into this week, Wisconsin will need to play great hockey to knock of Penn State, who boast a powerful offensive attack and are considered one of the Big Ten’s top teams this year.

Rumpel said they are preparing to play a Nittany Lions team that puts a lot of shots on goal and that the Badgers will have to play smart, disciplined defense in order to come away Friday and Saturday night with victories.

“Just from playing them in the past, they go hard, they go to the net,” Rumpel explained. “I think the key is just playing tight defensively, just being stingy out there and not giving up any huge chances.”

In addition to playing great defense, Wisconsin will be hoping for the continued great play of sophomore forward Grant Besse, who is leading the Badgers in points and is coming off a two-goal performance in last Saturday’s game against Ferris State.

According to Eaves, Besse has emerged as Wisconsin’s best forward this year and stepped up his game through more physical play and getting the most out of his 5-foot-10, 185 pound frame.

“It starts with his play over the puck and getting to the puck,” Eaves said. “He’s a lot stronger now and has a lot more of a authoritarian presence when he’s getting to the puck. He’s a good skater and now he’s getting that body, which isn’t the biggest, in a position where he can win puck battles.”

The puck will drop between the Badgers and Nittany Lions at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night as the Badgers hope to make a positive first mark on their “clean slate.”

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