Wisconsin Hockey Preview: Brick Wall

With the thoughts of last season's final game still in the back of his head, senior goalie Shane Connelly has taken the off season to fine tune his game in hopes of taking the Badgers back to the Frozen Four in 2009.

Can you describe the environment the last time you played in this building (the NCAA tournament)?

There is such atmosphere. Going into this year, we know what to expect and how hard it is to get back there. You've got to really make do on your chances. We can't things for granted now because you're not guaranteed to make it back in. The loss stung to North Dakota last year so we're going to try and erase that as much as possible. The experience though was awesome.

What aspects of your game do you want to improve upon this season?

I just want to be a more complete goalie and control rebounds even more that I have. I want to be more aggressive and a better puck handler. I really want to help our defense by getting the puck out of our zone and up to our defensemen. It'll make my job easier if those guys can play on offense. I just want to improve in every aspect of my game and take control of my game. If I can control the puck, that makes everyone's life a lot easier.

You look around the WCHA and you see good teams that have lost senior goaltenders. Now as a senior with that experience, how much is that going to help this team?

I think it's huge. There are so many talented goaltenders around the league and the transition from a starter senior to a freshman takes a little bit of time. We don't have much time to transition on my end, especially with the schedule we're going into. My experience with all of last year, I am not going in not knowing what's going on. I am going in knowing what I need to do and what is expected of me, which makes my job a lot easier.

What are your expectations for yourself this season? Is there any stat you want to meet or level you want to achieve?

I mean I have ideas in mind of how I want to play, but the ultimate goal is an All-American. I want to be the best goaltender I can be night in and night out. I want to be consistent as possible and limit the amount of bad goals I let in. I try to stay away from stats and accolades. I just want to help this team win. If I can keep my team in the game and hopefully win a few games for them down the road, that's all that matters to me.

Talk about the guys you have in front of you on the blue line. A lot of returning members on the defense and some young guys that should make a big impact. What do you see from them?

They are impressive. It's hard to find a more talented group of defensemen in the nation. They are young, but they have the experience, the talent and the maturity. It's going to be fun to watch them, especially for me watching these guys grow from when they were freshmen. The sky is the limit for that unit. If they put night in and night out, it's going to be fun to watch. They're going to shut down a lot of teams and get a lot of points on the offensive side.

How difficult do you guys take this opening stretch to be?

It's going to test our maturity, our leadership and the freshmen are going right into the fire. I think it's awesome, like last year when we played against Notre Dame. They were ranked high and I think (playing a ranked team) is better warmup. We're going against the No.1 team in the country and another team that is ranked ahead of us. Then the road schedule in the WCHA is going to be a fun time. We're going to learn a lot about each other in the first month here and if we can come out with a good record, we set ourselves up for a great season.

Does a series like this make your expectations a little more realistic than playing a team like Robert Morris at home?

Exactly. This sets the bar right where we want it. We're going to see where we are and where we might need to be. Boston College is the defending national champions and the top team in the country. They obviously earned that for a reason. There's no better measuring stick that this weekend.

Have you taken this first week like a tournament playing two different opponents in two nights?

We've always liked anytime we're in this situation, like when we play Michigan and Michigan State. We call it a dress rehearsal for the NCAAs because of the change in opponents. We're looking at it like that. We have to win the first game to get to the championship. Even though there's no championship involved, if we can go 2-0 this weekend it will be a huge step for us.

What's the biggest thing your teammates from working with during the off season and spending time with them on and off the ice?

They're a hardworking bunch of guys. There are no real slackers in here and they all know what they have to do to get the job done. Everyone is willing to learn here. The most important thing is we're a family already and a tight bunch of guys who really want to work hard and have success.

With Coach Howard not being here anymore, how has that affected you?

It is definitely an interesting time here for goal keepers at the University of Wisconsin. My three years being here, I've always had goalie practice here under strict tutelage from Coach Howard. I am just taking more on my shoulders right now. I have to get myself more prepared in practice. It's a little different but it relies more on the goaltenders, as Scott and I have to push each other in practice and get work in before or after practice. It's definitely been different but I think we've handle it very well.

No.13 Wisconsin (0-0) vs. No.1 Boston College (0-0)

Date/Time - Friday, October 10 at 6:00 p.m. CT

Arena – Conte Forum/Kelley Rink in Chestnut Hill (7,884)

Television - None

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Brian Posick and Mike Cerniglia)

Series – Boston College leads 10-9

Last Meeting – Boston College won, 4-1, on Oct. 28, 2006 in Madison

No.13 Wisconsin (0-0) vs. No.7 New Hampshire (0-0)

Date/Time - Saturday, October 111 at 6:00 p.m. CT

Arena – Whittemore Center in Durham (6,501)

Television - None

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Brian Posick and Mike Cerniglia)

Series – Wisconsin leads 14-2

Last Meeting – New Hampshire won, 7-4, on March 28, 1998 in Albany, New York


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