Life was a struggle for Gudmandson during his sophomore year on the University of Wisconsin hockey team. He played in just six games his freshman year and didn't start any games the second half of the season, a byproduct of having standout junior Shane Connelly between the pipes.
That sophomore year was a similar script for Gudmandson, prompting a loss a confidence, a couple visits to the team psychologist and reassurances that his time was coming. One game against Michigan Tech cured a lot of his ales. Gudmandon was crisp in that Nov.8, 2008 game against the Huskies and was semi-emotional after, posting a 34-save shutout in 6-0 victory, the first shutout of his career.
"It's always something that I will never forget," Gudmandson said. "It was my first in college hockey and it was a cool experience. It's something that I knew that I had in me. It was just a matter of proving it to everybody else and earning that respect."
Gudmandson did just that during his junior season, ranking third in the nation with a .759 win percentage (20-5-4) and posting a 10-game unbeaten streak when co-starting goalie Brett Bennett was sidelined with a torn labrum in December.
Gudmandson even turned up the heat in the playoffs, being named to the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team, but a loss in the national final hit him hard, as he gave up four goals in a 5-0 loss to Boston College in Detroit.
"Anytime you come that close and vest so much into something only to come up short, it's a tough feeling," Gudmandson said. "It was a long summer, just having that in the back of our mind. Every time I go on the ice, I want to stop everything, do that just more to have a chance to win it."
Although the results don't reflect it, Gudmandson has learned from the past, good and bad, the main reason he'll be the starting goaltender this weekend when No.18 Wisconsin host Michigan Tech. In four games, Gudmandson has made some highlight-reel saves but a young defense has created odd-man rushes and made his numbers (2.56 GAA, 91.7 save percentage) deceiving.
That's the main reason Gudmandson lives by his motto: ‘The past is past history. It's over and you learn from it. The future is a mystery. You don't know what's going to happen. The present is a present because it's a gift. You have to take that gift and move forward to the future."
"I've felt pretty good out there," Gudmandson said. "I want to win, so it's frustrating when you don't get the results. I am 1-2-1 right now and that's not good enough. I want to win 75 percent of the games I play. When I do that, we have a chance to compete for a national championship, and I want to do that again."
With the Badgers starting a season-high seven freshmen and Michigan Tech second in the conference in scoring (4.8 per game), Wisconsin needs a confident player as the last line of defense. That's the main reason the upperclassmen have so much confidence in the senior goalie that led them one period short of a national title.
"He's got a lot of confidence and he's just a well-mannered kid," said senior captain Sean Dolan, who has lived with Gudmandson for three years. "He sure comes to the rink ready to work and lights a fire underneath himself. It's good to know we have someone like him between the pipes.
Michigan Tech (3-0-2, 1-0-1 WCHA) vs. No.18 Wisconsin (3-2-1, 0-1-1 WCHA)
Date/Time - Friday, October 29 and Saturday, October 30 at 7 p.m. CT
Stadium – Kohl Center (15,237), 200' x 97'
Television - Friday – none. Saturday live on Time Warner Sports
Radio - Badger Sports Network (Brian Posick and Mike Cerniglia)
Series – Wisconsin leads 94-44-8 (UW leads 59-17-4 in Madison)
Last Meeting – Wisconsin posted back-to-back 5-2 victories over Michigan Tech on Feb, 26-27, 2010 in Houghton, Mich.
Series Notes: The badgers enter the series with a seven-game winning streak over the Huskies and a nine-game unbeaten streak (8-0-1). UW owns a five-game winning streak in the series at the Kohl Center. MTU's last victory in the series came Nov.2, 2007 in Madison.
UW Coach Mike Eaves' Scouting Report
"Every year brings a new opportunity for hope and attitudes and (Tech has) got that going. How can you measure what that summer trip to Europe did for that team? It brought them together perhaps. They're almost scoring five goals per game, allowing just over three, its power play is second in the country and its penalty kill is in the high 80 percent. They've got a lot of things going for them and when you watch video, they play extremely hard.