CHN Staff Report
MILWAUKEE Wisconsin is looking to become the first school in NCAA history to have both a men's and women's champion from the same school. Of course, the NCAA women's tournament only started in 2001, but nevertheless, it's a noteworthy feat.
Making it all the more noteworthy is that Wisconsin senior captain Adam Burish's sister, Nikki, was a senior on the championship Badgers women's team. And she has not let him hear the end of it.
"She said, 'If you don't win one, I'll have one up on you the rest of your life,'" Adam Burish said. "She'll be all over you. She said, 'Good luck, have fun, but you better win it.'"
Wisconsin is trying to earn its first men's title since 1990, when Jeff Sauer was the coach. Current coach Mike Eaves also won one with Wisconsin as a player in 1977, under "Badger" Bob Johnson.
The 1977 championship came against Michigan in overtime, a winning goal that Eaves had an assist on. But he would love to win another championship as a coach, moreso than just the obvious reasons; he would like to actually enjoy this one.
"From the time the puck went in until the locker room (in 1977), I was on such a euphoric high," Eaves said. "They showed us a picture of the winning goal, and I had no clue. In '78 we didn't win, (but) I really wanted to win again so I could enjoy it. So it would be nice to be able to enjoy it with the boys."
The atmosphere at the Bradley Center on Thursday night was similar to that in St. Paul in 2002, when the Gophers defeated Maine in overtime in front of a huge crowd of mainly Minnesota fans.
Burish said he told his teammates to motivate themselves by thinking of walking to the arena again for one more game.
"Walking here, people were high five-ing us, whooping it up, patting us on the back," Burish said after Thursday's 5-2 win over Maine.
But Burish also gave a word of warning.
"We didn't come here to enjoy the atmosphere and see Miller Park and the Miller Brewing Company," Burish said. "We came here to win a championship."
Maine seemed to have more fans in the building, though, than in 2002, even it was a small contingent relative to Wisconsin's.
"It's a great atmosphere, but it does affect both teams, the officials," Whitehead said. "But we knew what we were up against. There's no reason we couldn't have won. And our fans were great. We didn't have the numbers, but they made a lot of noise."
Like Father, Like Son
Mike Eaves' two sons, Patrick and Ben, played for Boston College. There have been close calls in the past for a BC-Wisconsin NCAA matchup, most notably in 2004. But Maine defeated Wisconsin in the East Regional final, and BC went on to lose to Maine in the NCAA semifinal in Boston.
Now the matchup finally occurs, but neither brother is playing for BC anymore. Patrick left a year early and is currently with Ottawa of the NHL. Ben was playing with Pittsburgh's affiliate in Wilkes-Barre when he got hurt, and is now out for the season. During his time off, he has been around at BC practices, trying to help out.
So will coach Eaves have any mixed emotions at all about playing BC?
"There's no mixed feeling at all," Eaves said. "There's two great teams, talented people. (Wisconsin women's coach) Mark Johnson said (after winning the national title) that women's hockey was the winner. Well, no matter what, the ultimate winner will be men's college hockey."
* Michel Leveille's goal in the first period for Maine, tying the game at 1-1, ended Brian Elliott's NCAA Tournament-record shutout streak of 188:47, and an overall streak — a WCHA record — of 269:52.
* Wisconsin relies on its depth and rolling out four lines, but Eaves believes the fourth line can use some improvement. Andy Brandt's line too three penalties in the game, and was not as much of a factor as usual. "I said (to Brandt), 'What did you do to the ref to tick this guy off,'" Eaves said. "So they can be better to be quite frank."
* Wisconsin has killed off 32 straight opponent power plays, dating back to the start of the postseason.