After two days off, the UW men’s hockey team met to practice Wednesday for the first time since its thrilling triple-overtime win against Cornell. No one was ready to say the team had fully recovered.
“You can still tell that some of the guys are a little wiped,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “It’ll take through this weekend before I think they get back the jump, and the jump will come with the anticipation and the rest.”
Eaves said the day had consisted of a brief meeting and low-key practice aimed merely at getting the players back into the swing of things. He plans to build the intensity up each day this week.
According to senior captain forward Adam Burish, the players were excited to come to the rink, but the practice was just focused on loosening up: Handling the puck and not pushing too hard.
“That was as tired as I think most of these guys have ever been after a game, myself included,” Burish said. “It was tough to get going again today, but I think that was the good thing, just to finally get a good sweat in again, get your body going. Hopefully tomorrow it’ll be easier.”
One player who didn’t seem to tire during Sunday’s game was freshman forward Jack Skille, who scored the game-winning goal 11:13 into the third overtime. Eaves attributed Skille’s energy to his youthful enthusiasm and naturally high level of conditioning.
“He kept thriving on the ice time, and it’s almost like he sensed something was gonna happen and he wanted to be a part of it,” Eaves said.
Skille was quick to say that while his energy on the ice may have seemed youthful, afterward he felt anything but.
“I couldn’t even walk up the stairs,” Skille said. “I was stumbling. I felt like an old man, but even out here today, three days after, my legs are still a little mushy and not fully healed yet.”
Skille said the fact that he ended the longest scoreless game in NCAA tournament history had not hit him yet and that he was not going to let it. He said he celebrated for 24 hours and then knew it was time to get back to work.
After hitting such an emotional high Sunday, one question facing the Badgers is whether they can match the same intensity level come their national semifinal matchup against Maine April 6. Burish said it would not be a problem.
“It’s the biggest stage in college hockey, so guys are gonna be so jacked up,” Burish said.”Guys are already talking about it, and obviously the buzz around campus and the buzz around the whole city right now. That just gets you excited and enthused for the weekend coming up.”
Another buzz echoed among the team and press Wednesday when it was announced that junior goalie Brian Elliott had been named to the “Hobey Hat Trick.” Elliott, Denver junior defenseman Matt Carle and Boston College senior forward Chris Collins are the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award — essentially the MVP award of college hockey.
Teammates said Elliott had been quick to credit both the team’s forwards and defensemen for helping him compile his statistics throughout the year.
“He was recognizing right away that this is a team award,” Burish said. “So that was pretty neat to hear from Brian.”