UW must fix season-long mistakes

first_imgOne goal. One save. One win.That’s how close the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team came to making the NCAA tournament this season.So while Mike Eaves’ team watches the playoffs from home as just the first team to miss the field of 16, they can point to a handful of chances that slipped away.Perhaps no one game or loss is more glaring than the Jan. 3 matchup against Northern Michigan. The Badgers hosted the Wildcats for a weekend series at the Kohl Center, but dropped the first game to a then 3-12-3 team by a final of 3-2. Perhaps the surprise of losing to a team they should have easily beaten on paper caused Saturday’s result for the Badgers.Up by three goals in the third period of the series’ second game, Wisconsin appeared on its way to a split. But in a span of under nine minutes, the three-goal lead was gone, and the teams were headed to overtime.It was Jared Brown’s goal with 50 seconds to play in the third period that tied things up, and Phil Fox provided the game-winner 2:01 into the extra session.The sweep was tough to stomach for the Badgers at the time. Little did they know how much the third-period collapse would hurt them in the long run.There were plenty of similar examples throughout the year. Take the Feb. 20 game against Denver. UW again held a third period lead, but again was able to seal the game. This time, however, DU’s Joe Colborne scored the tying goal with just 14.4 seconds remaining in regulation.Those 14.4 seconds were the difference between a trip to the NCAA tournament and a nice weekend in Madison for Eaves and his squad.Notice a trend? It continued in Mankato, Minn., the following weekend when the Badgers traveled to face the Minnesota State Mavericks. In Friday’s game, UW held a 3-2 lead entering the third (MSU’s Trevor Bruess cut the lead to one with 19 seconds to play in the second period). And just like they had done all season, the Badgers let another late-game lead slip away, eventually losing 4-3 in overtime.The following evening, it happened again. Wisconsin clawed back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead, thanks to two power play goals by junior forward Michael Davies. But it wouldn’t be a Badger game if a third-period lead didn’t magically disappear. They settled for a 3-3 tie.If there was one problem that plagued this team all season, it’s a pretty obvious one: the inability to close out games.So where does UW go from here? Well, Eaves will have a few holes to fill next season, most notably in the net. Goaltender Shane Connelly finished his senior season with a 2.51 goals against average and a .913 save percentage while posting a 19-14-4 record.Much like his career at Wisconsin, his senior year had its ups and downs. Certainly, Connelly would like to forget the season’s start. He gave up five goals in the team’s opener against Boston College — a 5-4 loss — and six the next Friday against Denver — a 6-5 loss. Those two games were part of the team’s 0-6-1 start to the season — a hole that eventually proved a bit too deep to climb out of.Following each of those first two losses, sophomore backup goalie Scott Gudmandson saw action in the net. In fact, half of his appearances all season came in the first two weekends. Gudmandson’s only other start was a 6-0 shutout win over Michigan Tech in early November.It’s tough to get a read on Gudmandson from the little ice time he saw in two seasons (he played in just six games as a freshman). Nonetheless, the starting job will likely be his to lose next year.Connelly did have moments of brilliance, however. Perhaps his best weekend came in Minneapolis, as the Badgers swept the rival Minnesota Golden Gophers at Mariucci Arena. Connelly was a big reason for the sweep, stopping 76 shots on the weekend in 3-2 and 5-4 victories.Connelly won’t be the only player leaving UW. Senior forward Tom Gorowsky is another departure for the Badgers. Gorowsky’s story is an interesting one. Through his first three years in Madison, the former Mr. Hockey in the state of Minnesota played just 67 games — averaging just over 22 a season.But as a senior, Gorowsky finally received regular ice time — missing just four of UW’s 40 games all year — and was third on the team in scoring with 30 points.They say hindsight is 20/20, but had Gorowsky seen the same minutes between his freshman and junior seasons, how much better could those teams have been?This is also that time of year when we’ll start to see players leaving school for the NHL. Last season, freshman phenom Kyle Turris was the only Badger to jump early. This year, though, Wisconsin might not be so fortunate as to lose just one.Jamie McBain, a second-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes — is the obvious candidate to turn pro. The junior defenseman led the team in scoring, and was named the WCHA’s Player of the Year — as well as a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.Wisconsin could potentially lose one or two more blueliners besides McBain. Sophomores Ryan McDonagh and Cody Goloubef had productive seasons and like McBain were early draft picks (McDonagh in the first round by Montreal, Goloubef in the second by Columbus).On offense, a few players come to mind as well. John Mitchell’s name has been tossed around as a potential early departure. Although he’s undrafted, Mitchell’s size (6-foot-5, 222 pounds) and newfound scoring ability (15 goals and 11 assists this year) make him appealing to pro teams.Junior co-captain Blake Geoffrion and freshman standout Derek Stepan are two more to watch, although both could benefit from another year (or maybe two, in Stepan’s case) in Madison.Many of the pieces will be in place for next season. Two big questions remain to be answered: How will Scott Gudmandson fare as the new goalie, and can this Badger team learn from its mistakes and finally be able to play with a lead?last_img read more

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Golden State makes a statement in walloping Clippers at Oracle Arena

first_imgAfter three quarter, the Warriors (4-0) were shooting 66.1 percent overall, 68.4 (13 of 19) from beyond the arc. Some of that was pure deadly shooting, some of it was too many open looks. Golden State eventually shot 58.1 percent from the field, 60 percent (15 of 25) from 3-point range.The Clippers didn’t shoot badly, making 46.3 percent of their shots, 36.8 percent (7 of 19) from beyond the arc. They got 24 points from Jamal Crawford, 17 from DeAndre Jordan, 15 from Chris Paul, 14 from Blake Griffin and 12 from J.J. Redick.But the Warriors (4-0) did whatever they wanted on offense during the first three quarters. Steph Curry led them with 28 points, Draymond Green had 24, Klay Thompson 19 and Leandro Barbosa 13. Bogut led Golden State with 14 rebounds, Jordan had 13 for the Clippers.Afterward, coach Doc Rivers was about as peeved as he could be. He said the Warriors were looking hard at this game because they were “angry” about the aforementioned playoff loss.“They ran to the game, we ran away from it,” Rivers said. Backup post Spencer Hawes agreed.“They dictated pretty much everything, every facet of it from the beginning,” Hawes said. “Played at their tempo, defensively disrupted what we wanted to do and got whatever they wanted offensively, so I’d say his assessment was pretty fair.”The Clippers (3-2) played their fifth game in seven nights to start the season. Rivers said he didn’t mind admitting his team may have been tired, but he said that doesn’t account for its lack of heart.“They played tougher, they executed better, I think they pretty much won every facet of the game tonight,” Crawford said.When it was noted to Chris Paul that his team was out-toughed, he shouldered the blame.“Man, that’s a great question,” said Paul when asked why his team is having trouble matching others’ intensity. “As a point guard and one of the leaders of this team, that’s something I’ve got to figure out.”The Clippers were outrebounded 39-30. Griffin, who is 6-foot-10 and powerfully built, had one measly rebound for the Clippers.Rivers also noted that his team committed one foul in all of the first half, and used the term “soft” to describe that statistic.Indeed, this has become a hotly contested rivalry. Whereas the Clippers lacked toughness, the Warriors had more than enough.“Absolutely, we have to attack, we have to stay in attack mode and continue to move the basketball like we have been doing, and attack,” said Green, who, by using that word “attack” three times, summed up what his team did to the Clippers all night long.First-year Warriors coach Steve Kerr liked what he saw.“It was very intense,” he said. “Right from the beginning our guys were ready. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img OAKLAND >> It was almost as if the Golden State Warriors thought Wednesday was Game 8 of their first-round playoff series with the Clippers. After all, the Clippers barely beat the Warriors in a hotly contested seven-game first-round playoff series last season, and they didn’t have injured post Andrew Bogut for even one game.Of course, the Donald Sterling saga happened right in the middle of that series, so it wouldn’t be unfair to say the Clippers were having difficulty keeping their minds on the task at hand, even though they never used that as an excuse.Still, Golden State played like a pack of hungry wolves on Wednesday night in the first matchup of this new season. The Clippers were its prey. When it was over, the Warriors had rolled up as much as a 29-point lead in the third quarter on their way to a 121-104 victory over the Clippers before a very loud and appreciative crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena.The Warriors in the first half shot 67.5 percent overall, 69.2 percent (9 of 13) from 3-point range. They led by 23 points at that point, the Clippers could not recover.last_img read more

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