Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves has been selected to lead next season’s United States team at the World Junior Championships in Finland, and he and Badgers assistant John Hynes are expected to miss four UW games.
Eaves, who coached the United States to the gold medal in the 2002 World Under-18 Championship, will be joined by Hynes and U.S. National Team Development Program coach Moe Mantha on the coaching staff for the Dec. 25-Jan. 4, 2004 under-20 tournament.
“Looking ahead at next season’s World Junior Championship, my initial reaction is one of excitement,” Eaves said. “The fact that I will have a level of familiarity with much of the team — having coached many of our prospective players during the 2002 IIHF World Under-18 Championship — is a huge factor when you’re competing against the best players in the world. That familiarity will be especially helpful in a short-term international event such as this.”
The span of the tournament is expected to cover four Wisconsin games. The Badger Hockey Showdown is scheduled for the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., on Dec. 27 and 28, with UW playing Union in the first round and either Ferris State or Massachusetts-Lowell on the second day.
The Badgers are tentatively scheduled to play a WCHA series against Minnesota State on Jan. 2 and 3.
Wisconsin announced that assistant coach Troy Ward will run the team during Eaves’ and Hynes’ absence.
“It’s a great honor for Mike and John to get the opportunity to represent our country and participate in a truly significant worldwide competition,” Wisconsin athletics director Pat Richter said. “USA Hockey recognizes the coaching talents of Mike and has given him one of the organization’s elite assignments.
“The professional growth for Mike and John and the recognition received from coaching at the World Junior Championships will be extremely beneficial over the long term. Our department is proud and supportive of its staff that have distinguished themselves to the point of receiving opportunities of this nature.”
Eaves joins a small group of coaches selected to lead the U.S. team while in charge of a college team. Boston University coach Jack Parker headed the 1996 team and Lake Superior State’s Jeff Jackson coached in 1995. Yale’s Tim Taylor was an assistant on the 2001 team.
Before starting at Wisconsin, his alma mater, last season, Eaves spent two seasons as coach of the National Team Development Program. After adding a silver medal from the 2002 Five Nations Cup, he was named the United States Olympic Committee Developmental Coach of the Year, the first such award for a USA Hockey coach.
“My coaching philosophy won’t change from our gold-medal performance in 2002: Play hard, play smart and play as a team,” said Eaves, who was 13-23-4 in his first season at Wisconsin. “If we execute in that order, we’ll give ourselves a chance to be successful.”