It was a big weekend for men's hockey coach Mike Eaves, as his third-ranked Badgers (14-7-3 WCHA, 19-8-4) faced off against the fourth-ranked St. Cloud State Huskies, splitting the weekend series at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin took a tough 5-1 loss on Friday on a night Eaves summed up with a basketball analogy.
""I've listened to [men's basketball head coach Bo Ryan] say they've had great looks at the basket but the ball wouldn't go into the hoop. Good looks, not pressured, the ball just doesn't go in,"" Eaves said. ""The puck didn't go in for us Friday night.""
His team rebounded quickly Saturday night, however, and in that contest, the Badgers had no problem putting the puck in the goal. Seven different players scored for Wisconsin as the Badgers took a 7-4 decision.
Most notably, four of those goal scorers were senior members of the squad playing the final regular season contests of their careers at the Kohl Center.
""You couldn't write a better script. Guys just took it to another level,"" Eaves said. ""For those guys to raise their level of play at a time that was needed for their team was really fun to watch. With their parents there, you just couldn't write a better script.""
Eaves also spoke Monday about Team USA's upset win over Canada at the Vancouver Olympics. A number of former Wisconsin players are on both teams, with Badgers like Brian Rafalski and Dany Heatley scoring goals for their respective nations Sunday night.
""I was in awe watching that game. It's hard to describe what it's like to be in Canada in a game where the U.S. is playing Canada,"" Eaves said. ""I was watching the Canadians last night and they weren't having much fun. They could feel the pressure—the whole country is on them.""
A number of players for both Canada and the U.S. have gone through the Wisconsin hockey system or other programs with Eaves, making the moment all the more special for the coach.
""When you work with young players, and they have an opportunity to play on a stage like that, your emotional tie to those games is a lot closer,"" Eaves said. ""Just as when you watch your own son or daughter play a game, you're going to be emotionally attached to that game.""
The Badgers will travel to Houghton, Mich., this weekend to face a Michigan Tech team that Wisconsin blew out at the Kohl Center in December by a combined score of 14-2. In this second-to-last regular season series for the Badgers, Eaves expects a tougher battle from the healthier and more energized Huskies.
""They're going to be a lot more fired up as we go up there. It's not going to be easy,"" Eaves said. ""They're going to play hard and we're going to have our hands full.""