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Wisconsin men's hockey: Consistent play bringing out best in Badgers

Wisconsin has benefited from playing on consecutive weekends.

Grant Besse's goal Friday night might be a sign of things to come for the freshman.
Grant Besse's goal Friday night might be a sign of things to come for the freshman.
Larry Radloff Photography

Coming off its first set of back-to-back series in over a month, as well as a home sweep of Penn State, the Wisconsin men's hockey team is starting to see some payoff from a more consistent schedule.

"Part of the solution has just been repetition in games and getting used to each other," head coach Mike Eaves said of his team's improved penalty kill. "I just think [it's] getting their feet together, and working together again. [Coach Shuchuk] is in charge of that part of the game, and he wants it even better than it is now."

With the wins, the Badgers (6-5-1 overall, 2-2-0 Big Ten) remain undefeated at the Kohl Center this season, where they will play their next 10 games in a row.

"The fact that we get a couple wins under our belt and get some momentum going... that's a nice way to start," Eaves said of his team's home stand. "We just need to continue to do that now and keep that momentum rolling for us."

One player Eaves seemed particularly pleased with over the weekend is freshman forward Grant Besse. The Plymouth, Minn., native got the scoring on the weekend underway with his first period goal Friday and now has four points on the season.

It was Besse's first goal (or point) in four games, but Eaves believes that it signifies a "breaking in the dam" for the young forward, and that more goals will come soon.

"Every time that young man shoots, he's a legitimate scoring chance," he said. "[He and fellow freshman Jed Soleway] are on the rise. They're becoming more comfortable with the way we want to play as a team and how they fit into that."

Up next for Wisconsin is former WCHA partner Colorado College (2-10-3, 2-5-3 NCHC). The Tigers have struggled in their first season in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, but have a strong history against the Badgers.

This past March, they faced off in the title game of the final WCHA tournament for both teams, with Wisconsin pulling out a 3-2 win.

Friday night's game will also air on NBC Sports, an exciting prospect for Eaves and his team.

"For our guys to know they're going to be on national TV, there's no question. I don't think we even have to mention that," he said. "You'll see a little extra spring in their step because they know they are on there."