Zach Woodman has been around the block a few times as far as being a goalie at the collegiate level goes.
The fifth-year senior at the Milwaukee School of Engineering will tell you the experience has made a difference for him.
“I feel a lot more comfortable now, and that comes with time and experience,” Woodman said. “It took me some time to find my identity, but I feel good about the way I am playing. It helps playing with guys I am familiar with. We work well off each other and communicate well.”
Woodman has already tied his mark for wins in a season with six, the same number he hit a year ago in 15 games for the Raiders. On that note, he’s come a long way from his first two seasons with the Raiders, when he won a total of two games.
Adjusting to life at the college level took time for Woodman, but he’s certainly adapted well and is in the midst of what could very well be the best season of his career. He owns a 1.63 goals-against average, the best of his career, and sports a 6-2 record. Woodman has also made 229 saves.
“I’ve learned how to adjust to the game at this level and to the different opponents you see week to week. I also think my overall preparation has gotten better,” Woodman said.
Playing goalie for a team in the NCHA keeps him on his toes. The league features two of the best teams in the nation in St. Nobert and Adrian. The rest of the conference isn’t bad either. The Raiders, who have spent time in the national poll this season, head into the first weekend of 2018 with an 8-4-1 overall mark. They are 4-2 in conference play.
“The NCHA is one of the most competitive in Division III hockey,” Woodman said. “You have to bring your best compete level every night, and I work hard to perform at the highest level that I can in every game.”
Woodman has learned one thing about life in the NCHA: You have no time to be complacent.
“You can’t take days off because anyone can beat anyone in this league,” Woodman said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s a good challenge. We’ve grown from the experiences, and it’s going to help us down the road.”
Woodman has helped the Raiders thrive this season, but he won’t take all of the credit. He points to team chemistry as a big factor in the Raiders’ success.
“There have been times in my career where the locker room hasn’t been the greatest, but we’ve done a good of building a great team bond,” Woodman said. “We are all friends. We have created a family atmosphere, and that is part of the reason we have had success on the ice.”
The Raiders opened January with a 2-1 win over No. 1 St. Norbert. Woodman made 35 saves in the win. Twelve games still remain on the schedule. The win over the Green Knights should serve as momentum for the Raiders going forward.
“We look forward to the challenges ahead,” Woodman said. “This is our time to make a push for the playoffs. We have to take it one game at a time, and hopefully we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Cobbers nail down impressive win
Winless in its last two games, Concordia closed out 2017 with a huge win, knocking off nationally ranked Milwaukee School of Engineering, 4-3, in overtime Saturday. The victory pushed the Cobbers to 6-4-3 on the season.
Jake Ellingson scored the game-winner in overtime for the Cobbers. It was his third goal of the year, and he has six points in all.
Mario Bianchi came through with two assists and has tallied at least one point in four consecutive games. He has recorded four multi-point games and leads the team in scoring with 16 points.
Sam Nelson got the job done in goal, stopping 37 shots for his third win.
Pointers ready to build off momentum
As a new year begins, Wisconsin-Stevens Point is poised to make the most of it. Winners of their last three, the fifth-ranked Pointers play four consecutive nonconference games to start off January before shifting their attention to the WIAC title chase the rest of the way.
Wis.-Stevens Point has put up 55 goals so far this season while allowing only 29, and five players have tallied at least 10 points, including scoring leader Tanner Karty, who has come through with 10 goals to go along with 15 assists.
Max Milosek has anchored the goalie position and appears ready to continue to do so. In 12 games, he has fashioned a 7-3-2 record and a 1.82 GAA.
Something else worth keeping in mind about Wis.-Stevens Point going forward is that the Pointers have been a solid road team all season, winning their first five road games, and that success is a good sign for a team hoping to make another run at a national title.
Lumberjacks notch impressive victory
For the second time in as many games, Northland knocked off Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Lumberjacks closed out 2017 with a 5-2 victory.
In both meetings against the Blugolds this season, the Lumberjacks have held them to two goals each time.
Lucas DeBenedet fueled the attack in this one, scoring twice and dishing out an assist. Kalib Ford scored a goal and came up with an assist as well as Northland won its fifth game of the season. The Lumberjacks are 5-6-2 and won two games in a row for the first time this year.
Northland enters the second half of the year hoping to build off the success it had against the Blugolds, and DeBenedet will no doubt be a key factor to Northland’s success in the second half of the season. He’s the leading scorer on the team, tallying nine goals and 10 assists.
In the Poll
St. Norbert is still the top team in the nation in the latest USCHO poll. Wisconsin-Stevens Point is also in the top five, checking in at fifth this week. Adrian is eighth and Augsburg is now at No. 15.