Just Wanting A Chance

Finishing off its five-game homestand with a 5-1 record, including out scoring Alaska Anchorage 11-3 in a two-game sweep, the Badgers are starting to see the results of their efforts, particularly when it comes to out chancing their opponents.

MADISON - The Wisconsin hockey team has taken the old adage, "you have to shoot to win", deep to their Badger hearts.

In six Wisconsin victories, UW has scored 31 goals and abused goaltenders with an astounding 246 shots on net.

In Saturday night's 6-2 victory, the Badgers lit into Alaska-Anchorage goaltender Bryce Christianson to the tune of 42 shots and five goals — the other score coming on a Justin Schultz empty netter.

Possibly lost in this statistical barrage, however, is the limited opportunities let up on the defensive side of the ice for UW.

If you really do have to shoot to win, Wisconsin isn't giving their opponents much of a chance.

"Only giving up 13 shots, I think Ryan [McDonagh] led the parade in that area," UW head coach Mike Eaves said. "Nobody got near our goalie ... People are asking about, ‘You are only giving up an average of 21 shots a game,' part of that is doing a good job when you don't have the puck, but the other part is we have the puck a lot."

How have the Badgers kept pucks away from their goaltender?

By taking on the job of blocking shots themselves.

For the game, Wisconsin players sacrificed their body on 13 total shots — the same amount that reached UW goalie Scott Gudmandson.

The willingness to take one for the team has more than impressed the junior goaltender.

"[The defense] is just so steady," Gudmandson said. "Everybody on the ice is contributing and if one person messes up the other guys are there to back them up. I know one thing we did really well is we blocked a ton of shots. That makes it easier on me."

Perhaps the only downside of such limited action in front of the net is the effect on concentration for the goaltender.

Last year, UW starting goaltender Shane Connelly admitted he liked to face a few shots early to get warmed up.

It appears Gudmandson is no different than his predecessor.

Though UAA's Josh Lunden's first goal certainly could not be blamed on Gudmandson — Lunden basically skated freely towards the net to put home a centering pass — the junior goaltender still felt he needed to concentrate better overall.

"It's mentally tough on you," Gudmandson said of facing only 13 shots. "You have to stay focused the whole time, and I need to do a little bit better job of doing that."

A jovial in media room

Win or lose, Eaves and his players will often answer post game questions in pretty much the same vein.

With clichés like "hard work" and "areas of improvement" dropped in responses no matter what the final score shows, measuring how pleased the team is with itself can prove to be difficult.

Saturday night, however, the Badgers took on a more playful tone in the media room — suggesting just how happy they were with the weekend sweep.

When asked who's goal was more impressive, Patrick Johnson's or Craig Smith's, Johnson quickly shut down the notion that his score took much skill at all.

"I couldn't score with my feet so I had to dive for one," Johnson said with laughter.

Eaves continued the frivolity by taking the microphone and asking Ben Street a question of his own.

"I want to know if you will have to ice your arms tonight after 11 shots?" Eaves asked one of UW's tri-captains.

"I should be good," Street said with a smile. "I have had a lot lately. I'm getting kind of used to it."

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