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DROP THE PUCK: UW ready for RIT

first_imgSenior forward Aaron Bendickson and the Wisconsin men\’s hockey team is set to face off with the RIT Tigers in Thursday\’s semifinal game in Detroit. UW has had 11 days off since its last game.[/media-credit]Wisconsin is tired of talking about its Frozen Four matchup with the Rochester Institute of Technology.They have had an extra week to think about it, an extra week to practice for it and now the Badgers want nothing more than to see the puck finally drop in Ford Field.“I’m real anxious to get going. You can only talk about it so much, and all we’ve been able to do is talk about these games,” senior tri-captain Ben Street said. “We just want to get out there and get it started.”After playing through a demanding, pressure-packed postseason schedule, where the Badgers played in the WCHA Final Five and the NCAA West regional, UW and the other three Frozen Four teams have had a rare extended period without game action.Street, who will be playing in his second Frozen Four after helping to win a national championship in 2006, had trouble keeping busy with so much time between games.“It’s been boring. We have all this time off, and I don’t even know what to do with myself,” Street said. “I mean there has been a lot going on in the sports world. Opening Day of baseball, college basketball wrapping up, it seems like everyone else is doing a bunch of stuff, and we are just practicing.”It is fair to say senior forward Aaron Bendickson is tired of waiting as well.“It sucks to have to wait this long,” Bendickson said. “Everyone is just really jacked to play.”Tonight, the wait is over and the Badgers are set to take on the RIT this afternoon.According to Bendickson, anticipation for the Frozen Four created tremendous energy that was put to good use in practice.“Practice has been really competitive,” he said. “You can tell people are hungry to play because everyone is just going after it really hard.”UW hopes the rigorous practice sessions have helped it prepare for the intensity the Badgers will face in Detroit. As a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, the energized RIT squad has emerged as the tournament’s Cinderella story.The Tigers shocked Denver, the WCHA regular season champion, in the opening round and proceeded to take down Hockey East regular season champ New Hampshire in the East regional final. Now, the former Division II and Division III national champions are headed to Detroit looking for another title.RIT may have snuck up on opponents in the early rounds of the tournament, but UW head coach Mike Eaves knows full well the upset-minded Tigers will come out with a lot of energy and present a difficult challenge for the Badgers.“They are going to get after it. They are going to finish every check,” Eaves said. “And they may be as good as any team I’ve seen in the defensive zone.”The Badgers are one of the top scoring teams in the nation, but Eaves and the Badgers know RIT will attempt to play a tight defensive game to keep scoring chances limited.That strategy has worked particularly well for the Tigers due to the performance of goaltender Jared DeMichiel. The senior has been red-hot between the pipes for RIT, allowing only three goals in two NCAA tournament games, and his play has spearheaded the Tigers’ NCAA tournament run.UW junior goaltender Scott Gudmandson has played pretty well in his own right, making crucial saves in the Badgers’ tight wins over Vermont and St. Cloud State.With his counterpart playing with such confidence, Gudmandson hopes to see lot of the commotion and activity in front of the other net as the Badgers plan on testing DeMichiel early and often.“They are real good defensively so we need to work them down low and get a lot of traffic in front of that goalie,” Gudmandson said.The Badgers know the game plan, and they’ve waited long enough to execute it.Now after all the preparation, they are ready to continue their pursuit of a national championship.“It’s so exciting,” Gudmandson said. “We can’t wait to get out on that ice.”last_img read more