Welcome to the newest feature in our expanding Badger hockey coverage, a segment we are calling "On the Blue line," were our hockey folks take a few topics and debate each week. Participating are our Andy Coppens and Avery Walker.
Hope you enjoy and let's get this party started....
Andy: Nic Kerdiles & Grant Besse were the only two guys to score in both contests this weekend—how giddy are you about these two going forward?
Avery: Kerdiles is a points machine. He proved that in the latter portion of last season. It's nice to see him get in on the act early. Kind of makes you wonder what his numbers would have been like last year sans the suspension. Besse is a gifted kid. I just didn't expect him to contribute so quickly. In my opinion, a lot of what you get out of him these year is gravy. It's not that he can't contribute, I just don't think think this veteran-laden roster needs a true freshman to put up monster numbers in order to be successful.
Andy: I agree with you that whatever Besse adds to the scoring column this season is gravy, but seriously…the thought of these two playing together for at least another year (probably wishful thinking on Kerdiles' part) is so intriguing. They could be the one of the best tandems of young forwards in college hockey.
For me, the unexpected part is just how well Besse seems to be handling the college game right away. That's a sign of a special player. Those types get hockey at whatever level, but coming from Minnesota high school hockey to scoring a game-winner in just your second game as a collegian is unreal.
What transpired this weekend with these two just solidifies my thought that this could be the best team in college hockey. Of course, there's a long way to go, but starting off with a sweep for the first time in nearly 20 years ain't too shabby if you ask me.
Avery: Not that I ever doubted the quality or the ability of Landon Peterson, but I felt as though Joel Rumpel had established himself as the primary netminder during the stretch run last year. Yes, Peterson was an integral part of the fantastic turnaround, but Eaves stuck with Rumpel during the entire WCHA Playoff run as well as the NCAA Tournament game. That choice spoke quite loudly to me. Why do you think Eaves decided to split time between the two this weekend. Do you think he is bold enough to do it again this weekend against much tougher competition?
Andy: I'll say this off the top…I'm glad I'm not Mike Eaves. He's got a great problem on his hands because not many college hockey programs have one, let alone two competent starting quality goaltenders. That said, to answer your questions. Yes, he would be bold enough to do it, because he's always gone with his gut feeling. If he feels that Peterson gives them something in practice this week that Rumpel isn't, I wouldn't think he'd hesitate to do it. Not only that, but it would be a great way to test who can step up against bigger competition this year.