To put it mildly, not much has gone right for head coach Mike Eaves and the Wisconsin men's hockey team this season.
The opening weeks of the 2012-13 campaign has been marred by a series of unfortunate events.
First, touted freshman Nic Kerdiles was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the first half of the season. Then, the Badgers got off to a 1-4-1 start. To rub salt in the wound, Mark Zengerle, the nation's leading returning scorer coming into the season, went down with a broken finger that will have him sideline for the next few weeks. Finally, assistant coach Bill Butters announced, unexpectedly, that he would be leaving his post.
Eaves would not deny that his team has been feeling the effects of an eventful first month. But, no matter how rough the opening six games have been for the Badgers, they are, in fact, only six games. Eaves knows that adversity is part of the game.
"I think there was a couple of days that I felt the guys were in a little bit of shock, mourning, to use a couple of adjectives," Eaves said. "but on Saturday when we practiced, we competed against each other for about an hour and 45 minutes. If there was any – I think it was put in the back, and we moved forward."
A sporadic schedule that has already included two weekends with no competition has been both a blessing and a curse for a team that still seems to be searching for an identity.
"I was very pleased we didn't play this last weekend because the time was used in other areas, as you can well imagine," Eaves said. "The down side of that is the fact that you don't get yourself in a rhythm of playing, and we need some games"
The Badgers will dive right back into the meat of the WCHA schedule when they travel to Minnesota this weekend to take on the third-ranked Golden Gophers. While the series will provide the Badgers with a chance to set aside my of the negative issues, the Gophers will present their share of challenges.
"They probably have the most depth at forward in our league in terms of ability and talent," Eaves said. "I don't think I've watched video yet of a team that can – three top lines for sure and a fourth line that's not bad as well in terms of ability."
Wisconsin is continuing their active search for Butters' replacement, but Eaves stressed the importance of finding a balance in the search method.
"Being on the inside, you want to do things quickly, and yet you want to do things thoroughly. What's the right way to combine those two? I'm not quite sure," Eaves said. "But there is a process that you need to go through, both in interviewing and then the university has a process by which it has to go through to make sure that a candidate is a worthy candidate in terms of background checks and such."