Joel Rumpel was announced Tuesday as one of the 20 goaltenders in the nation – being pegged as a front-runner for the Mich Richter Award.
Going to the Nation’s top goaltender, this relatively young honor is one that hits home for anyone wearing the Cardinal and White.
The award is named after Wisconsin goaltending great Mike Richter.
Richter skated at Wisconsin from 1985-87, before going on to become a Stanley Cup champion with the New York Rangers, and a three-time Olympian.
He was a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in 2008, and was introduced into the Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.
Head coach Mike Eaves talked with members of the press, Monday. He spoke about his goaltending going into this season and why he feels his team stacks up well in that department.
“Whenever you look at a hockey team, whether it’s experienced or young, you always take a look at your goaltending,” Eaves said. “That is where it begins and end in ice hockey.”
For the last three seasons, it’s been a mix of both Rumpel and fellow senior, Landon Peterson, who’ve been in an early season battle for the starting spot.
Rumpel has succeeded as the one Wisconsin has turned to.
He was a top-10 finalist for the 2014 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, and enters the 2014-15 season with 49 career victories to share ninth at UW, two shy of fifth all time.
He boasts two of the top three single-season save percentage marks in UW history, and also accounts for two of the top four single-season goals-against averages.
Rumpel was a unanimous selection to the Big Ten Coaches’ preseason players to watch list and sits with a 49-27-7 career record with a 2.16 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
His nine career shutouts are tied for second in school history. Whether it continues to be Rumpel, or Peterson in goal, Eaves likes where his team sits.
He also put his goaltending in perspective with his teams overall youth – the Badgers will suit-up 11 freshmen including two redshirts which is the second most in school history.
“We have two senior guys who are very experienced and are excellent in their positions,” Eaves said. “So we feel that having those veteran goalies will buy some time for our young kids both on the blue line and up front to get their feet underneath them … and learn in a positive light.”
After winning the inaugural championship, coming into their second full season in the Big Ten, UW will be chasing a familiar foe who sits atop the National hockey polls.
Minnesota will open the 2014-15 season as the No. 1 team in the nation in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Coaches polls, released on Monday.
The Gophers, who reached the national championship game last season and return three All-Americans, start the season as the No. 1 team in both polls for the first time since 2003.
Michigan follows at No. 8 the USCHO.com poll and No. 7 in the coaches rankings after finishing last season with an overall record of 18-13-4.
Wisconsin joins Minnesota and Michigan in the top 10 of the USCHO.com rankings, checking in at No. 10. The Badgers.
With those rankings, it’s no surprise that Eaves feels the league title is up for grabs – for the most part.
“I think there is no doubt about the parity in the league,” Eaves said. “I mean, Minnesota, obviously, I think they were everybody’s pick to be at the top, but that gives everybody else a target to shoot at.”
UW goes on the road this weekend to open their 2014-15 campaign.
Something Eaves said he relishes, especially with a young team.
“Coaches always talk about getting on the road with a group, and you have a chance to get to know each other being on the road,” he said. “Hanging out in airports, airplanes, hotels, you go into somebody else’s backyard, and you’re battling them.
“It brings you closer together. The fact that you’re going to be together from Wednesday until Sunday just us, we’ll get to know each other a little better.”