Badger forward steps into role

first_imgBEN CLASSON/Herald photoFor every Pavel Datsyuk, there is a Tomas Holmstrom.For every skilled player, a team needs a gritty player totake hits, get beat up a little bit and ultimately be there to collect reboundsin front of the crease. Blake Geoffrion is that guy for Wisconsin. ?For Blake to be effective, I think it?s one of the thingshe has to do all the time,? UW men?s hockey coach Mike Eaves said during hispress conference Monday. ?If you take a look at the national hockey league, if youtake a look at Mr. Holmstrom, who plays for the Detroit Red Wings, he?s made aliving being in the 3-by-4 area in front of the crease and making lifemiserable for the opposing goaltender with his ability to see the puck, gettip-ins and rebounds,? Eaves continued. Geoffrion began showing signs that he is ready to fulfillthat role. He picked up an assist Saturday night because a rebounding shot hitoff of him and found his teammate Michael Davies for the goal. He also set upanother by screening Minnesota State goaltender Mike Zacharias from the play. Although Geoffrion is willing to do whatever it takes tohelp the team win, as he indicated during the post game press conferenceSaturday, he still envisions himself doing bigger, fancier things, Eaves said. ?He needs to get that mindset like Mr. Holmstrom: ?This iswhere I need to make my living,?? Eaves said. ?Wayne Gretzky?s office wasbehind the net dishing pucks; his living has to be up front.??Time to take the leadThe men?s hockey team hasn?t had any difficulty this season comingfrom behind. Wisconsin has won or tied nine games this season when facing adeficit heading into the third period. ?We continue to play with confidence in our ability not topanic and to continue to play and do the things we want and have found ways tocome back and get ties or victories,? Eaves said. Since the Badgers have scored first in just 40 percent oftheir games this season, they?ve almost grown accustomed to having to comeback. According to Eaves, it?s not as though his team doesn?t playwell from the get-go, it?s just that the opportunities haven?t turned intogoals. ?In the first period we?ve felt that we?ve played somereally good hockey,? he said. ?We just haven?t scored. And as a result, we findourselves behind.? While the success has been there, Eaves hopes his team can alsoget practice playing with the lead, because, as he put it, it takes a muchdifferent mindset. ?I wish we would have more games where we had the lead goinginto the third period, because that?s a different mentality,? he said. ?Playingfrom behind, there?s a different pursuit, a different aggressiveness that youneed to have.? Saturday night was one of the few opportunities Wisconsinhas had this season playing with a lead, and a big one at that. The Badgersjumped out to a 4-0 lead in that one but gave up two unanswered goals. Eaves was pleased the team was able to gain some experiencein those situations, but he still would like to see more balance. He felt thatthe team played too cautiously and may have been the direct link to thoseMaverick goals. ?Connelly continues to emergeBeyond the second-half numbers ? in which Shane Connelly hasallowed two or fewer goals on all but three occasions while allowing just onegoal five times ? is a player who understands the game more. According to Eaves, his junior goaltender has latched on tothe idea that he can go out and play pucks and survey the ice as well as act asa third defenseman. ?I think he?s evolving into becoming a much more effectivegoalie,? Eaves said.last_img

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