Douglas Etten photograph

Eaves, Badgers searching for early season identity


Wisconsin earned plenty of it last season. And for as long as Mike Eaves has been at the helm of Wisconsin hockey, it’s come with the territory in Madison.

They’ll be trying to get some of their daunted respect back this evening when rival Lake Superior State (4-0) comes to town, in the midst of a five-game win streak that has them creeping into the NCAA top 10.

Forging through to the Frozen Four with a young team, one whom many put behind about a dozen others midway through the year, Wisconsin (2-2) held steady going into the 2013 campaign. Forecasters slotted UW to be one of, if not THE team to beat inside the newly formed Big 10.

After two recent beat-downs at the hands of Boston College (9-2 and 7-3), coach Mike Eaves has to wonder what team will hit the ice tonight, especially between the pipes where it’s now going on a three-year battle between Junior goaltenders Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson.

“You just have to clear the mechanism, as coach says. Come back and hopefully play better tomorrow,” Peterson said. “I feel good. You have to hand it to BC … they’re a good team who took advantage of our breakdowns and turnovers.”

This weekend will mark only the third time in three years Peterson will get back-to-back starts in a weekend doubleheader. He emerged from the first two — both on the road — 0-3-1 with a 5.22 goals against average and 81.8 save ratio.

Rolling with it

My how the tides have changed in just four games.

When No. 12 Lake Superior State pulls into downtown Madison today, they’ll have the AP Top Ten on their mind.

A sweep of the Badgers would certainly put the Lakers into the early-season elite. Alongside, it would mark the programs longest winning streak in over five seasons and leave head coach Mike Eaves and his Badgers wondering where their season-starting second spot, went.

The ranking came on respect. That along with a larger-than-usual returning letter winning class that experienced both the highs and lows of what hockey on the biggest collegiate stage can bring.

Though the No. 13 ranked Wisconsin Badgers are coming off a lack-luster performance out east against powerhouse Boston College, there are plenty of reasons to believe they’ll be ready to take out some frustration this weekend after being away from competitive hockey for over 12 days. Eaves has seen it in practice over the past two weeks and says that if they aren’t ready tonight, they might never be.

“In practice there is competition every day,” Eaves said. “This team really forces each other to get better by playing against each other. They know that if they don’t do the job, someone will be knocking on your door for your position.”

That statement can be directed almost solely at the goal tending position where the battle between Peterson and Rumpel will continue this weekend.

Although Rumpel is still sidelined with an ankle injury, and has temporarily opened the door for his teammate to claim the spot, another tough outing for Peterson could spell a simple return for Rumpel when the ankle heals.

Projected lineup vs Lake Superior State

F Morgan Zulinick-Nic Kerdiles-Mersch

F Joseph LaBate-Mark Zengerle-Tyler Barnes

F Grant Besse-Jefferson Dahl-Sean Little

F Brad Navin-Keegan Meuer-Jedd Soleway

D Jake McCabe-Frankie Simonelli

D Kevin Schulze-Joe Faust

D Eddie Wittchow-Chase Drake

G Landon Peterson

Injuries: G Joel Rumpel (ankle) is out.


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Tags: Badgers Eaves Hockey Lake Peterson Rumpel State Superior UW

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