The first official practice for the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team took place nowhere near campus, which isn't odd, but it is noteworthy.
A year from now, the new practice and competition rink inside the LaBahn hockey and swimming complex is scheduled to be open adjacent to the Kohl Center. That means the Badgers -- who practice at multiple sites during the season -- will be able to skate without having to board a bus to McFarland like they did Saturday afternoon.
UW coach Mike Eaves would love to see what that edition looks like if for no other reason than his current team -- with nine freshmen and 11 sophomores -- will be older and more seasoned.
"We're a little further behind because we're so young,'' he said. "We're trying to play catch-up right now.''
UW is in the midst of preparing for its season-opening series with Northern Michigan Friday and Saturday at the Kohl Center. The biggest question is one that won't be answered definitively for a while.
Who will be the go-to guy in goal?
Eaves said if he had to play a game today, he would flip a coin between freshmen Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel. However, Eaves added that Peterson's stock is rising.
"There's that patience and maybe a little bit more maturity there in Landon,'' Eaves said.
"It's a toss of a coin. This week is going to be big for those two guys.''
Eaves kept several lines together during a series of NCAA-approved instructional session, but after seeing them in practice Saturday only one is likely to stay intact. That's an all-sophomore unit with left winger Michael Mersch, center Mark Zengerle and right winger Tyler Barnes.
"I like what they're doing out there,'' Eaves said.
The other lines had junior Derek Lee between freshmen Joseph LaBate and Matt Paape; sophomore Jefferson Dahl between freshman Brad Navin and junior assistant captain Ryan Little; sophomore Keegan Meuer between sophomore Jason Clark and sophomore Gavin Hartzog; and freshmen Tyler Lapic and Brendan Woods with sophomore Sean Little.
"They're all pretty interchangeable,'' Eaves said.
The defensive pairs seem set: junior assistant captain Justin Schultz with freshman Jake McCabe; junior captain John Ramage with freshman Patrick Daly; sophomores Joe Faust and Frankie Simonelli; and senior Eric Springer with sophomore Chase Drake.