The University of Wisconsin hockey team opens the 2011-12 season on home

Mike Eaves

ice tonight against Northern Michigan at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers have been selected to finish 7th or 8th in the WCHA media and coaches preseason polls.  The lack of love in those polls is primarily because of the teams youth.   20 of the 26 players on the roster are freshmen (9) and sophomores (11).  And coach Mike Eaves, in his 10th season on the Badger bench, has three goaltenders that have never played a minute of college hockey before.

AUDIO: Mike Eaves on the challenge of keeping a young team confident during learning period :19

The Badgers are faced with replacing veteran goaltenders Scott Gudmandson and Brett Bennett.  The top two replacements, Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel, are both freshmen.

AUDIO: Mike Eaves on starting the season with 3 unproven goalies :17

Given the youth, Eaves isn’t sure what to expect this weekend. 

AUDIO: Mike Eaves says biggest fear is the fear of the unknown :22

The Badgers do return their top scorer from a year ago, defenseman Justin Schultz (47 points / 18 goals / 29 assists).  Schultz enters the season as a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award.  Schultz is a second round pick of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks back in 2008.

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