Walsh named Men’s Hockey Assistant Coach

MADISON, Wis. –– Matt Walsh casually left a “For Sale” sign on the kitchen counter Tuesday night when he got home from his day at the Kohl Center. It was a place he knew his wife Ann would see it. Not surprisingly, the sign piqued her interest and she asked Matt what was going on. He mentioned to her that he was thinking about selling something and after tossing around a few things, like his rarely-used bicycle and the family van, he made his way to the basement to continue unwinding for the day.

From what Matt says, it took Ann about seven minutes, not that he was counting, to come running down the stairs and exclaim, “You got the job!?”

The Walsh family had talked about what would happen if the day came when Walsh could take off the interim label from his title and become a full-time assistant coach for his alma mater. Currently living in Janesville, one of those discussions centered on whether a move closer to Madison would make sense, which is why Matt used the “For Sale” sign as the hint.

The family’s living arrangements may now be in question, but they know where Matt will spend much of his time next hockey season.

It now becomes a seamless transition for the Badger men’s hockey program as it moves towards its first season in the Big Ten Conference.

“I think having Matt with us since November, we were able to see first-hand how he interacts with college students and the work that he does on the ice,” said Head Coach Mike Eaves. “It became clear as time went on, that he was very capable of doing the job here.

“We also got to know him as a man, we got to know his family and it all matches up really well.

“We went through due diligence in the process,” explained Eaves. “We had many people apply. I talked to a handful of people who I thought might be serious candidates and chatted with them, but in the end it all came back to Matt and what he did for us this year.”

Walsh will continue his duties coaching the defensemen, while also getting more involved in recruiting.

“Since the end of the season, this has been a question mark,” explained Walsh. “I felt like I could do this and I wanted to do this. The interim position was good for me. It was like an internship where I got to really know what the job is like.

“Hockey has been a passion of mine for a long, long time and now I get to continue to help the program like I felt I did throughout the course of the year. I think going forward, the details I can work on with the players, especially the defenseman, and building on the relationships we’ve built to get what we need done will help make the players successful, the team successful and the program successful.”

Walsh’s Badger coaching career began last Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving and the day of the start of a Kohl Center series against Minnesota State. Following the weekend, the Badgers owned a 1-7-2 record.

After a full week in his role as interim assistant coach, Walsh and the Badgers skated 11 consecutive games without a loss and the squad began a four-month surge that culminated in a WCHA playoff crown and an NCAA tournament bid.

There were various factors that combined to fuel the turnaround, but as the coach of Wisconsin’s defensemen, the Badgers went on to lead all WCHA teams in league games with a 2.29 goals-against-per-game average. The team’s 2.12 goals-against-per-game average in all contests was good enough to rank sixth in the nation.

A member of Wisconsin’s 1983 NCAA championship team as a freshman defenseman, Walsh played for the Badgers from 1982-86, winning the WHA-TV Jim Santulli Seventh-Man Award his senior season.

As Coach-in-Chief for USA Hockey’s Central District since 1995, Walsh had been responsible for coordinating seminars for USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program over a six-state area. In 2003, Walsh represented USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program at an International Ice Hockey Federation World Development Camp, where he presented to coaches from around the world.

“From being entrenched in the Central District for USA Hockey, there are a lot of people you get to know here,” said Walsh. “And from working on a national level, whether it is with the coaching program, or the select festivals, you get to know people all across the nation. If I can add a few different areas and contacts for recruiting that maybe we haven’t been involved with before and that helps the program, which is a benefit.”

Throughout his time with USA Hockey, he has served as an evaluator for various USA Hockey Select 15, 16 and 17 teams. He also co-coached Select 15 and 16 district teams.

Head coach of Team Wisconsin from 1991-96 and again in 1998 and 1999, the Madison, Wis., native was also an assistant coach for the team from 1988-90. The team is made up of the top 20 seniors from Wisconsin.

From 1994-96, Walsh was head coach of the Stoughton High School squad.

“Wisconsin hockey is something I’ve been a part of since going to hockey games when I was eight years old,” Walsh concluded. “Now to actually come full circle as a coach here and try to improve the program and make it the best in the nation — that is the goal.”

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UW MHKY: Wisconsin Sweeps Alaska Anchorage, with 2-1 Win Saturday

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MADISON, Wis. — As it continues its second-half surge, Wisconsin (11-8-5, 8-5-5 WCHA) knew it wouldn’t be able to consistently win by margins such as the 5-2 victory it had earned the night before against Alaska Anchorage (3-16-5, 1-15-4).
“I wish, and the players wish, that every game would be like last night,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “But that’s not reality. These are nights where you’ve got to find ways to solve the riddle.”

It’s those riddles and close contests that Eaves believes really test and define a team. Good teams find a way to solve them.

The Badgers did just that on Saturday night, holding off the Seawolves for the 2-1 win to sweep the weekend and season series (4-0-0) and extend their conference unbeaten streak to 10-straight games (7-0-3).

Finding a way to end up on the right side of tight battles such as Saturday night’s have defined the turnaround and grit of the Badgers during the second half of the season.

“The strides we’ve made over the year are pretty amazing,” Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Minn.) said. “I think that’s the biggest thing we’ve changed is we’ve gotten used to the guys we’re playing with and we have more trust in the guys we’re playing with.

“Things are going more smoothly and the hard is still there. That’s where we need to keep the focus.”

That newfound focus has been a key to the Badgers’ continued climb up the standings. Once tied for 10th in the WCHA standings, Wisconsin has moved itself up into a tie for fourth place. The Badgers began the weekend in eighth place, but now sit just four points out of first.

Alaska Anchorage came out with plenty of energy and held most of the momentum throughout the first period. The Seawolves outshot the Badgers seven-to-three through the first period, while also holding Wisconsin without a shot on goal for the first 11 minutes of play.

“We’ve been here, we know that we’re better, and we need to go out there and go back to basics,” Eaves said his message was to the team after the first period. “It was more of a reminder.”

The Badgers came out in the second period with a re-focused effort, as Barnes finally got the team on the board at the 1:22 mark of the period. Barnes cut to the net on the rush, took a feed from Jefferson Dahl (Eau Claire, Wis.), then stuffed the puck past the goaltender to give Wisconsin the 1-0 lead. Nic Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif.) was also credited with the assist on the play.

It was the sixth goal for Barnes, the second on the weekend and also his third against the Seawolves this season.

Dahl recorded his second point of the night and extended the Badgers’ lead, scoring on a rebound in front of net to give UW the 2-0 lead at the 4:31 mark of the period. Brad Navin (Waupaca, Wis.) and Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville, Ill.) were credited with assists on the play.

The Seawolves would continue to make a game of things, however, after Dahl was called for holding to put Alaska Anchorage on a power play late in the second period. With the man advantage, Jordan Kwas freed himself up back door and got the puck past UW goaltender Landon Peterson (Oregon, Wis.) in to cut Wisconsin’s lead to 2-1 with just a minute left in the period.

“In practice, he does not like any pucks to get behind him,” Eaves said of Peterson. “He battles on every shot. It’s one of the reasons that he has the numbers that he has.”

Peterson played a big role in helping the Badgers battled off the late rally of the Seawolves, denying a number of third-period scoring opportunities and recording 21 saves on the night to earn his fifth win of the season (5-2-2).

“You have to come in prepared and focused each and every day at practice and every night during the weekend,” Peterson said. “Joel (Rumpel) and I are both playing well, so you just have to stay focused all the time.”

Playing well as a whole, Wisconsin next travels to Grand Forks, N.D., where it faces off against North Dakota. WCHA standing implications will be on the line, as the UND and the Badgers are tied for fourth place in the conference. Opening faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (CT) on Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday. Both games are scheduled to air on Fox College Sports.

Badgers Extend Unbeaten Streak to 11 with a 1-0 Win over #8 Miami

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MADISON, Wis. – The climb continued for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team on Friday as the Badgers (9-7-5, 6-5-5 WCHA) won for the seventh consecutive time and captured a 1-0 victory over No. 8 Miami (12-6-5, 8-4-4 CCHA) at the Kohl Center.

This time, sophomore Joseph LaBate (Eagan, Minn.) scored to provide all the offense the Badgers needed as sophomore goaltender Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) stopped all 26 Miami shots for his third shutout of the season.

For the first time this season, the Badgers welcomed a ranked opponent into the Kohl Center. For the third time in three games, they knocked off a ranked opponent.

“You could feel in that locker room that the guys all knew who was coming in,” Derek Lee (North Vancouver, British Columbia) said. “We knew they were going to come out hard and we’re on this little bit of a roll right now and we needed to match what they brought to the table.”

The RedHawks indeed proved the aggressors early on and dictated the tempo, outshooting UW 12-7 through the first period, including taking 23 shot attempts to just the 12 by UW.

“I thought their pace in the first period gave us fits,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “We weren’t prepared for that. They play a 200-foot game. They hunt down the puck, whether they have it or not, 200-feet, and that’s what good hockey teams do.”

Two of UW’s seven shots on net in the first period came from LaBate, who had a pair of close-range opportunities to finish, but was denied by great saves from opposing goaltender Jay Williams.

Williams finished the night with 19 saves and dueled throughout the night in net with UW goalie Rumpel, as each seemed to have an answer and match for the impressive save of the other. But when the horn sounded, Rumpel (5-5-3) came out the victor.

After his 36-save performance last Saturday against Minnesota State, head coach Mike Eaves had a hunch Rumpel belonged in net to open the weekend series.

“He was sharp, he was precise in his movements, which lent itself to saying he’s playing well and he’s on top right now,” Eaves said. “That was part of the reason he was back in the net tonight.”

Rewarding the efforts of Rumpel was LaBate. The sophomore forward picked up a loose puck behind the UW goal, skated up the left side of the ice, gained the Miami blue line, then fired a wrist shot that found room between the body and glove arm of Miami’s Williams for the game’s only score. The unassisted tally came at 11:32 of the third period.

Collective group effort and production from unlikely sources has been the catalyst to the recent hot streak of the Badgers. Specifically, LaBate has come on as of late to produce for UW, scoring his fourth goal in his last eight games. In that span, the sophomore forward has also recorded at least one point in seven of the eight games.

UW’s defense–No. 1 statistically in the WCHA in league games –shutout a ranked Miami team that averages 2.39 a contest.

“We’re starting to feed off of each other and different guys are starting to show up every night,” Rumpel said. “You saw it last weekend, with Jefferson Dahl’s line giving us some offensive chances and tonight with LaBate stepping up. Everybody is going every night, which is nice to see and hard to play against.”

Wisconsin will go again against Miami tomorrow night when it will look to extend its seven-game winning streak and 11-game unbeaten streak. Opening faceoff set for 7 p.m. (CT) at the Kohl Center. The game airs live on Fox Sports Wisconsin+ and tape delayed at 10 p.m. Check your local listings.

Men’s Hockey Rolls into Home Series with #8 Miami

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Ten-game unbeaten streak on the line against RedHawks

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin (8-7-5, 6-5-5 WCHA) plays at home for the first time in over a month when Miami (12-5-5, 8-4-4 CCHA) visits this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game begins at 8 p.m., while Saturday’s contest is a 7 p.m. start.

 The Badgers enter the weekend after a pair of road overtime victories at then-No. 11 Minnesota State as Wisconsin captured its first-ever road sweep over the Mavericks. Miami tied and fell at Northern Michigan last weekend in its last series.

 Games 21-22: Wisconsin (6-7-5, 4-5-5 WCHA) vs Miami (12-5-5, 8-4-4 CCHA)

Dates: Friday-Saturday, Jan. 18-19  |  8/7 p.m. CT

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