Badgers’ Skille named to 2006 United States Junior Team


first_imgFreshman winger Jack Skille hasn’t wasted any time making an impact on the No. 1 UW men’s hockey team, and later this month he will get a chance to prove his worth at an international level.It was announced Monday that the Madison native has earned a spot on the 2006 United States National Junior Team.Skille was one of 12 forwards picked to join the roster of the best players in the country under the age of 20. The team will compete in British Columbia between Dec. 26, 2005, and Jan. 5, 2006.”He’s played on a national stage before, [and] a lot of kids haven’t done that. It’s a different style — that’s part of that formula,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said.Skille, the seventh pick in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft and former player with the National Team Developmental Program, leads all Badger freshmen this season with five goals and four assists through 16 games.”I think the other things that Jack will bring [are] his speed, his size — they’ll be playing up in Canada where the rinks are smaller … and he can do a lot of things. I think he’s going to be a key factor for them,” Eaves added.Badger players are nothing new to the World Junior Team, as current juniors Jeff Likens and Jake Dowell played on the team each of the last two years. Former Badger Ryan Suter also joined the team, which was coached by Eaves, two years ago.Connelly likely to start this weekend: Answering the plethora of debaters on Badger message boards across the country, Eaves said Monday that freshman goalie Shane Connelly is ready to make his debut between the pipes for Wisconsin this weekend.With Michigan Tech (2-13-1 overall, 1-8-1 WCHA) in town this weekend, it seems like the perfect time for a rookie to get his first taste of Division I hockey. But Eaves said it wasn’t about who the Badgers were playing, but rather about the progression of his young goalie.”I’ve been waiting for the nod from [goalie coach] Bill [Howard] saying [he is ready],” Eaves said. “He’s getting closer, and I know in my mind, this weekend would be an opportunity for him to play, because he’s ready, not because of who we play.”The Cheltenham, Penn. native has been working with Howard in an effort to prepare himself for the college level.”In practice, he’s gotten the reps that he needs to play the way Bill would like him to play,” Eaves said. “We certainly would want to get him in there this weekend.”Eaves also added that he wasn’t sure what night Connelly would start.The rookie’s start would give Elliott a little bit of a break. The junior netminder leads the country with a 1.42 goals against average and a .945 save percentage.Streakin’: It was this month two years ago that the Badgers set a school record by going unbeaten over a 15-game stretch. This year’s No. 1 team has a chance to tie and break that record this weekend against Michigan Tech.While the two stretches are nearly equal in the number of games, they do have their differences.The 15-game unbeaten streak in 2003-04 seemingly came out of nowhere. Wisconsin was coming off a dismal 13-23-4 season under first-year head coach Mike Eaves.Then, just 1-3-0 four games into Eaves’ second year, the team got on a roll, going 11-0-4 over its next 15 games.This year, the expectations were high — though this exact outcome could not have been predicted.”Well, I hadn’t thought about the two different streaks, but right off the top of my head, I would think the one a couple years ago was more of a surprise than this one,” Eaves said. The two streaks also included many of the same teams — Minnesota, Colorado College, Michigan and Michigan State to name a few.However, the results against these upper-echelon teams were a bit different.The Badgers did get three points from the Gophers, though it was at home, while they got four in Minneapolis this past weekend.The streak two years ago included two home ties with the Tigers. This year they snagged three points from CC.The two big streaks are impressive in their own right — but they are also both early in the year.And while the ’03-’04 Badgers had their ups and downs down the stretch, the verdict is still out as to how long UW can sustain its current streak and its early success.”We’re in our fourth year, we know our players better, we know what we have,” Eaves said. “We have more of the guys that we have brought in.”last_img

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