Wisconsin bouncing back after a rough start

After going winless in its first seven games, the Wisconsin menâÄôs hockey team finally has managed to scratch together a 3-game winning streak. The Badgers (3-6-1 overall, 3-4-1 WCHA) split with No. 18 North Dakota two weeks ago before sweeping Michigan Tech last weekend at the Kohl Center to pick up their first and only wins of the season. Wisconsin is led by a trio of defensemen which, despite recent standout forwards like Jack Skille and Kyle Turris , is reminiscent of the pre-Mike Eaves era in Madison that featured the likes of Chris Chelios, Brian Rafalski and former Minnesota Wild defenseman Sean Hill. This year, another batch of NHL bound blue liners is leading the pack for Wisconsin. Junior Jamie McBain leads all Badgers with 12 points this season followed by sophomore Brendan Smith and sophomore Ryan McDonagh with eight and nine, respectively . âÄúWe want our kids to do what they do best, and theyâÄôre doing what they do best,âÄù Badgers coach Mike Eaves said Monday. âÄúA lot of the points are coming off the power play. TheyâÄôve been very effective. WeâÄôve got three defensemen on one group. So theyâÄôre getting a lot of their points there and itâÄôs functioning very well right now.âÄù Honors continue for Harrison Minnesota State junior forward Zach Harrison can add two more honors to his name to go along with his WCHA Defensive Player of the Week award from Oct. 31. The Flint, Mich. native was featured in this weekâÄôs Faces in the Crowd segment of Sports Illustrated after recording a shorthanded natural hat trick last month in the Mavericks 5-1 win over North Dakota. Perhaps an even greater honor occurred late last month when Harrison was contacted by the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto asking for the stick that accomplished the feat. âÄúAs of yet, we havenâÄôt found an instance of a shorthanded natural hat trick (although that doesnâÄôt necessarily mean it has not happened),âÄù Hockey Hall of Fame Manager, Exhibit Development and Assistant Curator said in a statement issued at the time. It has actually, according to Minnesota State. On Dec. 12, 1988, HarvardâÄôs CJ Young recorded a natural shorthanded hat trick Crimson win over Dartmouth. But that doesnâÄôt keep Harrison from being honored by the request. âÄúObviously having something like this happen and then have one of my sticks sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame is pretty cool,âÄù Harrison said in a team release. âÄúItâÄôs a unique thing, not only with the three shorthanded goals, but also with them coming consecutively. Undoubtedly having my stick in the Hockey Hall of Fame makes it extra special.âÄù WCHA in the polls No. 2 Minnesota leads the WCHA in the USCHO.com/ CBS Sports poll, but the Gophers are not alone. In all, four conference teams are ranked while nine teams received votes in the polls. Michigan Tech âÄî MinnesotaâÄôs opponent this weekend âÄî is the lone WCHA team not to receive any consideration.