It's no secret that the No. 18 Wisconsin men's hockey team has fallen on hard times. The Badgers are 0-5-1 since their bye week, and have been steadily dropping in the national polls and conference standings all month. A month ago, home ice in the WCHA playoffs and a berth in the NCAA tournament seemed a certainty. These days, not so much.
With the way the past month has gone for the Badgers you would expect the confidence level in the locker room to be dampened, but Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said that what his team is going through right now isn't all that unexpected.
"The confidence level isn't what it has been at other times during the year, I would be lying if I said anything different," Eaves said. "But by the same token what we're going through is what most teams will go through at some point in a season."
For those looking for precedent in this situation, Eaves pointed to the 2006 national champion team, who went through a similar situation as this year's squad.
"Relating it to the story about '06 when we lost [former goaltender] Brian Elliott. Brian came back and we lost two games against Mankato and we were kind of going through the same thing," he said. "We were able to gather ourselves then, win the next series and get on a roll."
"Our hope is that we can do the same with this group," Eaves added.
"They are a young group that has played very well at times. They know they can beat anybody. It's been a tough stretch but we have to gather ourselves like the '06 team did and see if we can get ourselves on a roll."
Eaves refused to label the Badgers' current situation as desperate or crisis-like, instead choosing to remain optimistic by seeing it as a chance for this young team to grow and come together.
"Sometimes when you go through things like this what seems like a negative becomes a positive," Eaves said after Saturday's 7-3 loss to St. Cloud State. "It's how you handle these moments and how you try to right your ship. This is a big growth opportunity for this team."
For Eaves, choosing to be negative in the face of adversity doesn't result in positive results moving forward.
"I don't think being negative in any situation has any benefits," he said. "We can be truthful with one another, we're not going to skirt issues. It's about perspective, and the perspective of the coaching staff and our captains is one of moving forward and figuring this out together, doing the things we need to do and get going again."
A good analogy for what this team is going through, and how it will end positively, is marriage, according to Eaves.
"The value of marriage in real life goes up when you go through hard times," he said. "The value of a team concept becomes more real when you go through hard times. This is part of us becoming closer as a team. It's a good thing to go through and we hope to see the benefits as soon as this weekend."
Let's hope the Badgers can turn it around in time. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!