Finding a line

Wisconsin's men's hockey team may have found a line combination that will provide consistent production

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The Wisconsin coaches and players searched for it all last year but came up empty. The Badger fans expected to see it but it never showed up. It is a definitive Badger scoring line, and just six games into this season they just might have discovered what they were looking for.

 

With freshman Andrew Joudrey centering a line with senior tri-captain Rene Bourque and sophomore Ryan MacMurchy on the wings, Wisconsin cruised to a 4-1 victory over Quinnipiac last Saturday. The three accounted for all four Badger goals and added three assists on the night.

 

"They carried a great part of the game and gave our team confidence," head coach Mike Eaves said. "When you look at [that combination] on paper you would think there's a chance of some good things happening and they did happen."

 

Indeed this was a line that looked great on paper. Joudrey entered the weekend as the team's leading scorer while Bourque was Wisconsin's leading scorer last year and was still looking to get things on track.

 

"Rene and Mac were really pumped up. They are vocal guys and when they have their juices going it really helps to get everyone else going," Joudrey said.

 

MacMurchy came through big for the Badgers on Saturday night. His four point effort, including two goals, energized the Kohl Center. He worked well with this line, acting as a connector between his two counterparts. He has a year of experience with each of them.

 

Bourque and MacMurchy played together last year and were the top two scorers for this team. While not always playing on the same line, there is an obvious chemistry between the two.

 

"We played together a lot last year," MacMurchy said. "We kind of have the feel for each other and it's great to play with guys that you've played with before."

 

Joudrey and MacMurchy actually played together before their time on the Badgers. The two of them spent an entire season on the same line when they played for the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

 

"[Joudrey's] big gift is his ability to set up his wingers and create space for them," MacMurchy said. "I had the privilege of playing with him for the entire year in juniors and I think we both feel that we still have a bit of that chemistry now."

 

But it wasn't just the goals that this group brought to the ice with them. They played with intensity and desire that had not been seen since Eaves took over at the beginning of last year. The new attitude sparked a big game, and if they can keep that mentality, the Badgers will only get better.

 

"I think it starts in practice," Eaves said. "These guys play with that intensity in every practice and then they are able to carry that emotion with them onto the ice during games."

 

This line is going to stay together as long as they are hot. And as long as they are hot, Wisconsin will be a tough team to beat. With this weekend off that gives them almost two full weeks to radiate their attitudes during practice. They generated a big victory, now the challenge will be keeping that intensity going until next weekend's series at Michigan Tech, and through the rest of the season.


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