Wisconsin hockey fans will soon find out the fate of long-time veteran coach Mike Eaves after the Badgers season came to an end in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.
The Badgers (8-19-8, 3-13-4-2 Big Ten) fell to Penn State 5-2 at the Xcel Energy Center.
Wisconsin fell behind 2-to-nothing before freshman Luke Kunin scored his 19th goal of the season on a feed from Cameron Hughes to cut the deficit to one goal. Kunin has scored nine goals in his last 10 games.
But that was as close as the Badgers would get the rest of the way. Penn State would score two more goals in the second period to take a 4-to-1 lead.
Wisconsin’s Grant Besse made it 4-to-2 with a goal 3:26 into the third period.
Penn State scored its final goal into the empty net with 43-seconds left to seal the win. The Nittany Lions advance to today’s semifinals to face Michigan today.
Mike Eaves Future
Mike Eaves 14 seasons on the Badger bench have mostly been fabulous. Eaves has won 20-plus games eight times. Under Eaves, the Badgers have been to seven NCAA tournaments, and won a national championship in 2006. Two years ago, the Badgers won the first Big Ten Tournament championship, winning a total of 24 games.
Since then, the Badgers have won 12 games over the last two seasons. Four victories last year and eight this season.
This years team has been competitive for the most part, despite their record. But attendance is still down and that has to be a concern for athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Eaves has a team that is rebuilding. He’s played the season with a number of freshmen learning the ropes, including goaltender Matt Jurusik.
The Badgers have made improvements and despite the loss to Penn State, finished the season playing its best hockey. Now the question, will that be enough to allow Eaves to stick around for another season and get fans back in their seats at the Kohl Center.