Cross: Wisconsin men’s hockey’s future lies in development of Jurusik

Cross: Wisconsin men’s hockey’s future lies in development of Jurusik

September 16, 2020 laecpour 0

first_imgWith the 2015-16 regular season for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team coming to a close against Minnesota, it’s time to look back at some of the highlights of the year. No one player or headline stands out more than freshman goaltender Matt Jurusik.Following the early-season 6-0 loss to Boston College, head coach Mike Eaves decided he needed to make a change when he subbed in Jurusik over veteran senior goaltender Adam Miller.Jurusik’s first performance was all the proof Eaves would need to give him his vote of confidence, stopping more than 40 shots on goal against a ranked Boston University team. That game marked the most saves by any Wisconsin rookie since 2001.Men’s hockey: Eaves says Jurusik is goaltender going forwardThe scoring came early and often over the weekend in New England, but it was much to the chagrin of Read…In his first full-time starts following Boston College, the promising 18-year-old made an immediate and consistent impact on both the defensive and offensive flow for the Badgers.With Jurusik in net, the Badgers went on an early three-game winning streak by sweeping a series with Arizona State and stealing a win at No. 1 North Dakota. He averaged just around a .91 save percentage over the time period and established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the country. Jurusik has now amassed 851 saves on the season and maintains a .891 save average.“I think the key for me is settling down a bit,” Jurusik said. “I’m working to play more relaxed and comfortable in net, not doing too many things to disturb the rhythm.”According to College Hockey News, Jurusik is one of only four freshman keepers in the NCAA to have played more than 1,800 minutes this year and at least 30 games. Even though he currently sits at 71st for goaltenders in save percentage, he ranks 12th in total saves, and this sharp contrast in numbers shifts the blame primarily on the defense for a lack of production.Some of the most experienced players on the entire team, mainly the starting defensive line, drastically underperformed this season and left Jurusik with the burden of keeping the team in close games.In a tight overtime loss to No. 14 Penn State back in January, Jurusik had 54 saves from 58 shots, one of the most impressive stat lines in Wisconsin men’s hockey history.“Matty has been really good back there all season,” Eaves said. “He’s keeping us in games and giving us a chance to win.”And despite Jurusik being one of the breakthrough stars on this Badger team, he doesn’t let it get to his head, as he knows the team still has a long way to go.In fact, Jurusik would tell you that he is one of the more reserved players on Wisconsin.“I’m more of a quiet guy in the locker room,” Jurusik said. “I go about my business and just try to produce some consistency day in and day out. With such a young group of guys, I just try and lead by example through a good work effort.”With several performances like what he had against Penn State, Jurusik is jumping off the board for many NHL recruiters. Despite getting passed over in last year’s draft, dominating play against six of the top teams in the country this season will surely land him somewhere in the pros going into next season.Goldsobel: Jurusik and Kunin named top NHL draft prospects, but need to prove worthWisconsin men’s hockey is not what it once was. It seems so long ago that they were one of the NCAA’s Read…Despite the prospect of success at the next level, Jurusik isn’t looking to the future and instead is taking the games as they come.“I haven’t really been thinking too much about [the future],” Jurusik said. “I’m just trying to do what I need to do in the net, not overthinking it.”As just a freshman on such a young and promising squad, Jurusik has the ability to develop into the ranks of some of the legendary netminders to come through Wisconsin. The most recent example and probably one the best Badger goaltenders in history, Brian Elliot, led Wisconsin to its 6th NCAA championship in 2006 and is currently the starting goaltender for the St. Louis Blues.Jurusik now enters a sophomore campaign with a load of expectations and will be expected to lead the Badgers back to national success.“I’ve mostly just worked with our goalie coach, Jeff Sanger, watching video and taking it step by step,” Jurusik said. “I’m thankful we have him on staff and he is a big reason why I am where I am today. It’s a good relationship and I’m excited to keep working.”With Eaves on the hot seat after another disappointing season and Jurusik having the break out year he was expected to have, there is no question as to whether he’ll remain as the number one guy next season. The real question is how long will stay at Wisconsin with the NHL prospects looming.Cross: Alvarez’s comments bring issues of struggling hockey program to surfaceWith two losses to Michigan State, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team finalized its spot at the bottom of the Big Read…The Badgers have plenty of questions to answer going into next year, but the team can take solace in the fact they have a reliable talent between the pipes. Expect the young squad of 80 percent underclassmen to rally around Jurusik in the following 2016-17 season.“We have so much potential with a young group like this,” Jurusik said. “I’m excited to see where we take it.”last_img

 

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