Line-up Changes Shake Wisconsin
by Dan Myers/CHN Staff
ST. PAUL, Minn. Following a Friday afternoon game where Wisconsin came out of the gate flat in a 2-0 loss to St. Cloud State, Badgers head coach Mike Eaves decided to send a message by shaking up his line-up.
Following Wisconsin's 6-3 dismantling of No. 1 ranked Denver in the WCHA Final Five third place game, one thing was certain: That message was clearly received.
The Badgers scored three goals in the first period to force Hobey Baker Award finalist Marc Cheverie from the net, added two more goals in the second and one more in the third in a dominating win over the Pioneers.
"Any time you switch all that up, it's going to create energy," said UW senior forward Ben Street, who scored the game's first goal just over two minutes in. "It gets you into the game. You're talking with your linemates. Overall as a group, I just think we were more ready."
"I think the changes we made were for good," said forward Blake Geoffrion.
Those changes included inserting Podge Turnbull and Craig Johnson, two players not considered regulars in the Badger line-up. Johnson answered the call by posting his first assist of the season on Street's goal. In all, each one of Wisconsin's lines scored a goal in Saturday's game — clearly a good sign for a team heading into the NCAA Tournament.
"I think we had gotten stale," said Badgers head coach Mike Eaves. "We had been discussing changing things.
"To change lines when you're winning seems to backfire. You need to make changes when you have a game like you did last night. There was no question after last night's game that we needed to switch things up."
The new energy was apparent from the opening face off. Wisconsin outshot the Pioneers 18-10 in the opening period. After a 13-13 tie in shots in the second, Wisconsin posted another 17-13 edge in the final period.
"The start we had tonight was the exact opposite of the one we had last night," Eaves said. "We had some goals and got started the way we like to. It carried us the rest of the game."
The Badgers only had one power play, but took advantage of it on Geoffrion's 24th goal of the season with nine minutes left in the first. He added his 25th in the second period after DU made it a two goal contest.
Asked after the game if getting up emotionally for a meaningless third place game was difficult, Street's answer was simple.
"You're always playing for something," he said.
It's a mantra Eaves has been hyping about his team all weekend in St. Paul — the compete level of his team.
"This is a competitive bunch," Eaves said. "We still haven't lost on back-to-back nights because of it. This team doesn't like to lose."
The Badgers showed that again Saturday at the X.