Badgers look to start rolling in postseason

first_imgUW senior tri-captain Ben Street and No. 3 Wisconsin are ready to begin the WCHA playoffs against Alaska Anchorage tonight.[/media-credit]The Wisconsin men’s hockey team (22-9-4) is set for postseason play against the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves (11-21-2) after a self-admitted funky series in Minneapolis to close out the regular season.But things got even more unusual Thursday as forward Ben Grotting — known for his physicality and grit, not his offensive prowess — put on a clinic and won the shootout contest in practice.Head coach Mike Eaves and his team got plenty of enjoyment from Grotting’s display, but the Badgers are certainly hoping UW gets back on track in the first round of the WCHA tournament and things go back to normal.Fortunately for the Badgers, they have drawn a team they have dominated as of late. UW has had plenty of success against the Seawolves, winning the last nine at the Kohl Center and sweeping UAA back in November with two dominating performances, 5-1 and 6-2 respectively.Now the Seawolves, coming off a recent upset victory over Minnesota Duluth last weekend, come to Madison hoping to extend their season.“They’re a team with their back against the wall, and the only way they continue their season is to keep winning,” senior tri-captain Ben Street said. “They are a gritty team, they’re going to give us everything they got and it’s going to be a good series.”The Badgers have made it clear a national championship is their goal, but winning the WCHA tournament is another intermediate accomplishment the third-ranked team in the nation has its eyes on.And after a disappointing end to the regular season (6-1 loss to Minnesota), Eaves has seen a team focused on getting back to their winning ways.“No question it was a quiet bus ride home,” Eaves said, referring to the trip back from UM. “Nobody was happy, but these things happen, especially in a game that didn’t mean much for us. The biggest thing is to forget the game and remember the lesson.”Street had a tough time forgetting Sunday’s game against the Gophers, and the fifth-year senior wanted to get back to work as soon as possible to prepare for UAA.“I didn’t really sleep Sunday,” Street said. “We had Monday off, and I usually stay away from the rink when we have off, but Monday I came to the rink because I was itching to get back at it.”According to Street, at practice Tuesday it was clearly evident the entire team was anxious to get back on track with the postseason looming.“We had a good day Tuesday. Everyone was ready to get back on the ice and take a step forward,” Street said. “The guys are excited to get this series going. It’s a new season right now, so everyone is fired up to get it underway.”The excitement has reached junior goaltender Scott Gudmandson, who will start Friday night.Eaves insisted a decision will be made after the game Friday on the game two starter between the pipes, but the coaching staff is looking forward to seeing how the Alberta-native performs in the tournament opener.“[Gudmandson] has played very solid down the stretch here,” Eaves said. “He won those two on the road and has been playing well going into the playoffs.”Gudmandson is just energized for the big stage in front of his home crowd and says he’ll let the coaches worry about the starter for the remainder of the series.“It’s the most exciting time of the season. I’m just really excited to get going and raise my game,” Gudmandson said.The Badgers, like every other team in the conference, want to get their hands on the Broadmoor Trophy (awarded to WCHA tournament champion) and potentially improve their seed in the NCAA tournament, but more than anything, Street and the rest of the Badgers want to start playing their best hockey with the postseason in front of them.“If we get a chance at Denver we might be able to change where we’re going to be playing [in the NCAA tournament]. That’s one thing we are playing for, but at the end of the year you just want to be playing your best hockey,” Street said. “And we don’t want to have a weekend off while the rest of the teams are playing in St. Paul at the final five. You want to be up there peaking at the end of the year.“We just want to get on a roll.”last_img read more