Badgers head west to Anchorage

first_imgUW leading point-getter Mark Zengerle and the Badgers are ready for a road trip, even if it means going all the way to Alaska.[/media-credit]Road trips can be a great way for a team to come together during the course of a season.The Badgers will have plenty of time to gel this weekend, as UW (7-6-3, 3-5-2) flies west to take on Alaska Anchorage (4-8-2, 3-6-1).Scott Gudmandson has made the trip to Alaska before, and the senior goaltender didn’t have any trouble finding a way to describe the journey.“Long. One word is long,” Gudmandson said. “But it was cool, just going into Alaska, flying in, seeing the mountains all covered in snow.”As one of the senior members of the team, Gudmandson knows that despite the trip’s obvious length, a voyage to Alaska provides a great team-building opportunity.“I think it’s good to always have a few road trips at the beginning of the year, especially with a new team and a bunch of new guys. It helps bring the team a little bit closer together,” he said. “You sit on the bus for how many hours, or on the plane, the hotel. You get to hang out and get to know some of the other guys a little bit better.”Head coach Mike Eaves has been using the past few weeks to get a clearer picture of his team, and after a six game winless streak, UW finally got back in the win column last weekend by taking down Michigan State.While the losses were tough for Wisconsin to absorb, Eaves knows a little adversity early will pay off later on. His players, meanwhile, got a chance to measure up against some of the nation’s best in North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth over the past few weeks, and those tight losses served as a valuable measuring stick.“I think we found out we can be a really good team,” freshman forward Mark Zengerle said. “We didn’t have our best hockey games against North Dakota, but I think we bounced back pretty well. And both of those OT games (against UMD) could have gone either way and they’re No. 1 in the country.”Now the Badgers hope to get a bit of a win streak going as they re-enter WCHA play. Alaska Anchorage currently sits tied for seventh-place in the conference, just a single point behind UW.The Seawolves are coming off a series split against Colorado College, and Eaves knows UAA will plan to put the pressure on Wisconsin in front of the home crowd.“They’re going to apply pressure and be physical with us and skate,” Eaves said. “They’ve got a big team that can skate.”Anchorage may not have the prestige that recent UW opponents possess, but Eaves has plenty of respect for UAA head coach Dave Shyiak and his program.“I just like the way he coaches. His teams, they play hard, he understands that; they play well together,” Eaves said. “Because of that factor, they give themselves a chance to be successful.”For the Badgers to keep the wins coming, UW needs to continue to progress and learn from each series as they pass.Sophomore defenseman Justin Schultz knows this team has talent and the confidence Wisconsin had early in the season is starting to resurface.“The freshmen definitely have some confidence. They’re learning a lot from Eaver, they’re soaking everything in, which is good, and it’s showing on the ice,” Schultz said. “We’re getting back to the things we were doing at the very start of the year.”After three straight weekends in Madison, the Badgers are excited and ready for a chance prove themselves on the road, even if it means traveling halfway across the country to do so.“Sometimes you can get a little too comfortable in your own rink. We’ve been playing really good on the road too,” Zengerle said. “We’ve played some of our best games on the road, so I think it will be nice to get on the road with the boys and get some wins.”last_img

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