When Mike Eaves received a verbal commitment a few years back from Boston University goalie transfer Brett Bennett many were concerned about the consequences. The great thing was that Bennett was a very solid goaltender and would challenge Scott Gudmandson, who hadn't played well in his first two years in Madison as Shane Connelly's backup for the starting role. The bad was that Bennett was coming in as a junior, same as Gudmandson so that meant both scholarship goalies would graduate the same season.
One of the biggest advantages to losing both goalies is that elite goalie recruits knew they could come in and start as a freshman. That helped lure in Joel Rumpel from the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. For the other two spots coach Eaves and the Badger staff could have gone a few different routes. Eaves has chosen to promote current walk on third stringer Mitch Thompson from Onalaska into a more prominent role on the squad.
The last goalie position was just recently figured out when Alaska Avalanche (NAHL) goalie Landon Peterson made his commitment to the program. The Oregon, WI native posted a 2.82 goals against average and .913 save percentage this season. Peterson was kind enough to answer a few questions for Bucky's 5th Quarter recently. For his answers, follow after the jump.
B5Q: As a Wisconsin native can you tell us how it felt to get that offer from coach Eaves to come play for the Badgers?
LP: Growing up in Wisconsin, it was always my dream to play for the Badgers. Not only just to play hockey, I always wanted to get an education there too. When I was offered from the coaching staff, I was thrilled that I actually got to play at my dream school. It was a very surreal feeling to have, and I couldn't have been more happier.
B5Q: Can you give us a little insight to your recruiting process and talk about what how long you had been talking to Wisconsin and what other schools you were looking at and why you settled on the Badgers?
The coaching staff saw me play at the NAHL Showcase in Minnesota, in early September this year. The assistant coach Gary Shuchuk was the one who noticed me, and he talked to my coaches once the showcase tournament was over. A few weeks later I received a call from him and we talked and got to know each other a little bit more. As months progressed through my season, I was sure to contact the coaching staff to keep them updated with my play. So I was talking to Wisconsin for about 7 months before the verbally offered me in late March. I was also talking to other schools throughout my season such as Union, Holy Cross, and Alabama-Huntsville, but I wanted to keep my options open and I wanted to wait out for the Badgers final decision, as it was my dream school to go to.
B5Q: Has the Wisconsin coaching staff given you an indication of your role in the program or potential for playing time next season?
LP: With three goalies being there next year with no college game experience, there is going to be a battle for the number one and two spots. There will be good competition day in and day out, and eventually it will make all three of us goalies better. So I think each of us goalies will be pushing one another hard, and it will make all three of us more skilled. I'm really looking forward to competing daily, as it will not only make my game increase, but my teammates as well.
B5Q: Wisconsin hasn’t recruited much out of the NAHL lately but has had some success with a few guys out of that league. Do you think the NAHL is better then its given credit for?
LP: I feel that there is a lot of good talent in the NAHL, and I feel it is overlooked and not as scouted as much as it could be. I feel there are a lot of good skilled players in this league that are good enough to be in the USHL, but don't get the exposure. There are good players out there, they just need to be exposed and discovered.
B5Q: Most Badger fans haven’t had an opportunity to see you play. Can you give us a quick description of your style and maybe who you try and pattern your game after?
LP: I'm not a tall 6'4" goalie, who has a very large presence in net as you see a lot today. As a 6 foot goalie, I use my athletic abilities, quickness, and tend to play out on top of my crease to cut down angles, and to make myself appear larger in net. I'd consider myself a hybrid goalie, who I would most resemble the play of Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Redwings.