"Heater gave us what we were hoping he would give us and that's a little bit of an offensive spark," Eaves said following Saturday's game. "The weekend of North Dakota we scored nine goals. Last night we scored one. So you take a look at what your needs are."
Heatley gave the Badgers exactly what they asked for Saturday, getting his stick on a rebound in the crease for one of only three goals Wisconsin scored in the two nights against St. Cloud freshman netminder Tim Boron. Heatley's tally gave the Badgers a commanding 2-0 lead at the 11:02 mark in the third period. He played on a line with sophomore center John Funk and freshman wing Andy Brandt for most of the night, but was inserted at left wing with sophomores Adam Burish and A.J. Degenhardt for the shift in the third period, temporarily replacing sophomore wing Nick Licari, who is struggling through a 19-game goal-scoring drought.
"The particular play that he was involved in we sat Mr. Licari on the bench and put (Heatley) up on that left side hoping to get what we got—a little offensive spark and (in) this case it turned to be a goal," Eaves said.
Heatley played every game of Wisconsin's school-record 15-game unbeaten streak earlier this season, registering three goals and two assists in that span, but had seen his playing time steadily decrease since New Year's Day. He had not registered a point since getting a goal and an assist in a 6-2 win over Minnesota State Jan. 3.
"I felt really good today," Heatley said. "The first shift I just wanted to make a statement and just say that I deserved to be in the lineup. I got a hit and I went hard out there. I was just really excited even in warm-ups just to be out there again…Just being out there, I just miss it so much, I just love playing. You just realize how much you miss it when you don't play."
Eaves is hopeful that Heatley can continue to produce offensively.
"He is a young man that has some things you don't teach," Eaves said. "He needs to get stronger, he's tall enough, but he needs to get stronger and work on his stride. If he can give us that he can be effective for us."
Before he gave the Badgers a spark he received one from his parents, Murray, a former UW hockey player, and Karin, who visited him this week from Calgary, Alberta and watched Wisconsin's practices at the Kohl Center throughout the week.
"Any time a member of your family is here it just gives you a little boost because you are just happy to see them," Mark said. "Last time I saw them was at Christmas when I went down to Atlanta (where his brother, Dany, plays for the NHL's Thrashers).
"It was just great. My mom was here earlier in the week but she had to leave early. It just gives you a little boost. You know they are up there in the stands watching you and it's just good to play there and know they are watching."
Badgers claim third - game story