first_imgMATTHEWKUTZ/Herald PhotoFor the second-straight week, UW men’s hockey head coach Mike Eaves stepped up to the microphone at his press conference after a home sweep, and for the second consecutive Monday he was pleased with what he saw when looking at his team’s most recent games on film.”Yesterday, I watched the game, and you know what? We were pretty good,” Eaves said before using a golf analogy. “From tee to green, we were pretty good. But once we got on the putting green, we didn’t score enough. But we did a lot of good things.”The fourth-year coach will now rely on his captains and veterans to relay that message to their teammates to ensure that the team remains confident.”They know that we did some good things. I think it’s up to them to make sure the rest of the team is on board with that,” Eaves said. “We’re going to look at some video and reinforce the good things that we did.”One of the more impressive feats that the Badgers accomplished was shutting down Minnesota’s power play.UW’s top-ranked penalty kill in the WCHA won the battle with the Gophers, who are the league’s best team on the man-advantage. Minnesota was 0-for-9 on the weekend.”That’s a good power play they had,” Eaves said. “That’s one of the positives we can build on — the fact that we shut down the No. 1 power play in the conference.”He was also pleased with his team’s effort when it was on the power play, despite the fact that the Badgers converted on just 1-for-10 in the two games.”We had some good opportunities. We did some things that got the puck to the net and we could’ve had more than one power play goal,” Eaves said. “Specialty teams, starting with the penalty killing, was excellent, and we’ll continue to build on that.”Of course, it’s nice to find positives coming off a rough weekend, but the fact still stands that Wisconsin picked up two more marks on the right side of the ledger.Not only are the Badgers now locked in a three-way tie for first in the WCHA — they also saw their ranking slide for the second straight week. UW now sits at No. 4 in the poll, though it still received three first-place votes.Miami-Ohio assumed the throne with 20 of the 40 first-place votes, while Minnesota jumped up to the second spot, followed by Boston College which fell from the top spot.Connelly is progressing: Since stepping in for junior standout goaltender Brian Elliott nearly two weeks ago, Shane Connelly has given up 13 goals in four straight losses to begin his career.While the numbers — a 3.29 goals against average and .865 save percentage — look pretty dismal, especially when stacked up against those of Elliott, Eaves said his young netminder is progressing well as the team tries to build its confidence in him.”The thing that I’ve seen with Shane is that we [didn’t just] drop him into the deep end, we dropped him into the ocean and he’s surviving,” Eaves said.True, the losing streak and statistics are not impressive, but Connelly really hasn’t necessarily been as bad as the numbers may show.Part of the problem has also been that his teammates are still adapting to playing in front of him.”He was fine,” Eaves said of Connelly’s play after last Friday’s 5-4 loss. “One of the things we did poorly was we tried to play goalie. We were kind of looking for the puck and trying to stop the puck.”The rookie goalie has now endured the two teams tied with UW atop the WCHA standings, which included a Minnesota team with the best offense and the best power play in the league.Eaves said that he doesn’t want Connelly to change anything when the team heads on the road this weekend to Duluth.”What I like in Shane is that his game is on another level,” Eaves said. “For the level that it needed to go through for us, he’s got to go through some pains. The things that he can control is keep going on the path that he’s on. He’s getting better. That’s what he can control.”Street stepping up: Freshman center Ben Street is quickly stepping up into a more veteran-like role for Wisconsin.He was more noticeable in this past weekend’s series against the Gophers than even his goal and assist show.”He is a very intelligent man both on and off the ice,” Eaves said. “His ability to understand the game is very good, he wants more. He wants more responsibility and he’s playing like he should get more.”With a veteran-heavy Badger team this year, it is unlikely that he will assume a large leadership role this season. But nonetheless, Street’s maturity and growth bode well for UW in both the present and future.”When he says [he’d] like more, [he says] ‘I do it respectfully because I know we have a hell of a team here and I’m a freshman and I understand that, [but] I want you to know that I’m ready,'” Eaves said. “That’s valuable, that’s the kind of attitude that you like.”last_img

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