Badgers unable to fight off emotions

first_imgThe Badgers’ men’s hockey team received their championship rings over the summer at ex-captain Adam Burish’s cabin and shared that moment together to reflect on an incredibly memorable run to the NCAA Championship.Friday night, the defending champions got to share their joy with their faithful fans at the Kohl Center.Just before Wisconsin’s first home series of the 2006-07 season, the players skated out to a fanatically energized crowd of 14,336, and enjoyed a three-minute video montage of the highlights of UW’s sixth national championship season. All of this was capped by the big moment of the night, the dropping of Wisconsin’s championship banner accompanied by a shower of fireworks.UW head coach Mike Eaves, who also won an NCAA Championship with Wisconsin as a captain in 1977, said he and his coaching staff thoroughly enjoyed the moment.”The coaching staff … had goosebumps,” Eaves said. “The fans knew the plays, and when a play was shown, the crescendo of noise would rise, it was very emotional.”Goaltender Brian Elliott said because the Badgers had been there to experience the events shown in the video, it was seeing the banner for the first time that players valued the most.”We’ve seen those hits; we’ve seen those saves; we’ve seen the goals before this summer,” Elliott, a senior, said. “It wasn’t so much the video as having the banner up there and just getting ready to start this new season off at the Kohl Center.”Last night, it was something more of a restart to this next season,” Elliott continued. “That’s what we were mainly thinking, and I think that was the attitude towards that through the whole team.”Senior winger Jake Dowell added that the experience was even more powerful for the freshmen who weren’t around to win a ring on last year’s team.”For the younger guys it’s their first time at the Kohl Center, and that’s a heck of a way to start your career at the Kohl Center, to see that,” Dowell said. “The noise that the fans were making and the banner being raised, how exciting that was, I’m sure there were some jitters, and I think it was tough.”It was obvious early on in the series how tough it was for Wisconsin. Several Badgers said leading up to the home opener that they were going to try and bask in the remembrance of last year’s championship, enjoying the banner drop while staying focused on the task at hand. Aftereffects of the ceremony were quickly evident, as North Dakota came out to a faster start than the Badgers did.”I thought we stood around and watched a lot in the first period, which is a byproduct of maybe the ceremony, a little bit of North Dakota,” Eaves said Friday, when Wisconsin lost in overtime 3-2. “But I actually thought in the second half of the game we started to play the way that we needed to. The feeling on the bench was we’re either going to get a point, or we have a chance at winning on this. Unfortunately, the turnover was there, and they capitalized on it.”Though the Badgers did start to get after the puck late in the game and managed to send the game to overtime on a third-period Jack Skille goal, senior captain Andrew Joudrey was disappointed with his team’s sluggishness after the puck dropped in the first period.”For the first period-and-a-half, they wanted the puck more than us, they wanted to battle,” Joudrey said. “I thought in the third, we started to do some good things. We started to win some battles and started to play our systems a little bit better. Overall, they won the game, so they battled more than [we] did.”It’s got to be 60 minutes for us to be successful,” Joudrey said. “There’s no excuse to start like we did.”Eaves admitted to the difficulty of adjusting to a game-time mentality in a matter of a few minutes, but said things will get easier for next weekend with the banner officially raised.”You try to tell the kids, ‘OK, enjoy the moment,’ then you’ve got to turn the switch. That’s a difficult thing to do,” Eaves said. “That may have been a contributor of last night’s start for us, but it was very emotional, fun to watch, but it’s behind us now, and we can focus on the present.”last_img

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