‘Diligent’ Connelly thrives

‘Diligent’ Connelly thrives

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoWith a 43-save performance Friday and a dazzling stick saveSaturday against North Dakota, junior goaltender Shane Connelly was naturallythe topic of discussion in head coach Mike Eaves’ press conference Monday.Part of what has impressed Eaves about Connelly since theBadgers were recruiting him was his attention to detail.”One of the things we noticed was the fact that he’s prettydiligent and pretty detailed,” Eaves said. “He keeps a little book of thingsthat he’s doing well in practice.”Connelly’s knack for remembering shooting preferences ofopposing players paid off over the weekend, as he made 74 total saves in theseries split with the Sioux. Following the game, Connelly was able to recallspecifically which UND players took shots on him, a trick he learned early on,according to Eaves.”In junior hockey, he used to write down how goals werescored on him game in and game out to kind of see if there was a pattern or howhe could work on,” Eaves said. “I think he’s continued on with that type ofthinking. … I think that’s been an asset for him in terms of getting to thispoint where he’s our No. 1 goaltender.”His ability to keep on top of such fine game detailsresulted in Eaves drawing comparisons between Connelly and former Wisconsinnetminder Brian Elliott.”I don’t know if Brian Elliott was at the same level asShane in keeping track of guys and who’s hot and what’s their favorite shot orstuff like that,” Eaves said. “Shane’s probably the most detailed goalie I’veseen in a while in that area.” Big pond, thin airWhen the team makes the trip to Colorado this weekend, thethin air won’t be a top concern. What may present more of a challenge is thesize of CC’s rink at Colorado Springs World Arena.The rink will allow for a more open style of play, somethingEaves said is more suited to his current roster than of past UW teams.”We have a little bit more ability to skate,” Eaves said.”The assessment of that rink, you could park an 18-wheeler below the goal line,and it still wouldn’t touch the boards from side to side. It’s such a big sheetof ice.”I think we have kids that can skate. They will embrace it.I’m looking forward to seeing how our kids handle it.”The Tigers have built their team around players who are ableto use the entire rink, Eaves said, which will provide yet another challengefor the Badgers.”They’ve always come to the ice with good skill and speed.That’s been their game,” Eaves said. “If you’ve ever been out to that rink,that thing’s an ocean. That’s why they have kids that can skate. They’replaying well, and it will be a real stiff test for our kids.” Tough stretch aheadThe Badgers have escaped their first two WCHA series with a2-2 conference record. Things will not be getting any easier for Eaves’ squad,though, as it looks ahead on the calendar. This weekend, UW will travel toColorado Springs to take on No. 7 Colorado College. Following that, the team willface current No. 2 Michigan and defending national champion Michigan State, currentlyranked third in the country, in the College Hockey Showcase.For the young Wisconsin team, one of the focuses will be onplaying consistently against its tough opponents.”We may ride this wave up and down here for a while,” Eavessaid. “I certainly hope our valleys aren’t as big as they’ve been and we canfind some consistency.”Eaves said his young Badgers are eager to get back on theice after leaving with a bitter taste in their mouths following a 3-1 lossSaturday at home.”They’re all ticked off. They want to get back to work,”Eaves said. “They know they can play better. That’s the kind of thing you wantto hear.”Playing against a tough North Dakota team early in theseason was important in the development of the team’s freshmen, Eaves said. Somuch so that the coach said he wished the Badgers could play the Sioux moreoften so his team could continue to improve.”I can guarantee you that they have never seen a tempo likethey played against this past Friday and Saturday,” Eaves said of his team’sfreshmen. “I wish we played North Dakota every other weekend just for thatfact. When you play against that level time and time again, you’re drawn up toit. We’d be a much better team from playing them every other weekend.”last_img

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