Eaves happy after sweep

first_imgUW freshman forward Craig Smith found his scoring touch last weekend, netting two goals in a sweep over Alaska-Anchorage.[/media-credit]The Wisconsin men’s hockey team is 6-3-1 this season following a decisive weekend sweep of the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. Winning 5-1 Friday and 6-2 Saturday, the Badgers wrapped up a 5-1 home stand at the Kohl Center.After struggling at the start of the season, going 1-2-1 over the first four games, the Badgers seemed to course-correct over their six-game stay in Madison.“The results are real good,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “You take a look at being 5-1 … overall, we couldn’t have asked for much more from the kids. We got ourselves rolling and it’s a good way to hit the road.”The only low point in the six games was a tough loss to Minnesota where Wisconsin was held to just two goals in a 5-2 loss Nov. 7.The Badgers lost to the Golden Gophers despite outshooting Minnesota, and generally out-chancing them. Goaltender Brett Bennett made his second start in a row and appeared jumpy out on the ice.“Sometimes it reminds you of your golf game,” Eaves said. “You know, you think you left a couple of birdies on the green.“[That’s] the one game I thought we could have done a little better. We could have scored a little bit more.”Craig Smith a new Paul RanheimFreshman forward and Madison native Craig Smith played a key role over the weekend against the Seawolves, scoring two goals and an assist. Those were the first goals of his career as a Badger. In addition, Smith has seven assists this season and is tied for second on the team in points with nine.Smith has drawn comparisons to former Badger and former NHL player Paul Ranheim.“I didn’t play with Paul,” Eaves said. “My recollection of Paul, as a pro, was that he was a tremendous skater. I know in the minors he scored about 66 goals one season, then he went up to Calgary and, you know, was a consistent goal scorer on high teams.”Last year Smith played with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL, a junior league, and scored 28 goals for them, amassing 76 points total. He’s currently fifth in the nation in rookie points per game at 1.12.“Very focused, very good skater, very determined to put the puck in the net; all of those are things that were talked about about Paul Ranheim and the same could be said for Mr. Craig Smith,” Eaves said. “That’s a very good analogy.“I’m sure Craig would like to hear that.”Patrick Johnson maturingOne of Eaves’ philosophies is that coaches teach, but players must take ownership to make a good team. Junior Patrick Johnson has lately been doing exactly that, taking ownership — and the resulting maturation is showing, Eaves said.“There’s a bunch of things … that you wouldn’t see,” Eaves said. “Patrick Johnson getting the guys up during a TV timeout, talking to the guys about what we need to do. It’s starting to come (together).”Johnson is coming off of a down year with the Badgers. After scoring eight goals and 13 assists as a freshman, Johnson’s sophomore season left a lot to be desired. He scored just three goals and registered merely four assists. This year, Johnson seems to be getting back on the right track, with his first points this season, a goal and an assist, coming over the weekend series.“He’s come back this year a more mature young lad,” Eaves said. “What we’re trying to do this year is to get him to come to practice this year with more of a purpose … He’s playing hockey again the way that he needs to.”last_img