University of Wisconsin men's hockey coach Mike Eaves believes he has two good, reliable goaltenders and the numbers bear him out regarding sophomores Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel.

Peterson has a 92.0 save ratio and 2.42 goals against average in four games this season, while Rumpel has 90.9 save percentage and 2.66 goals against in seven outings. Their dismal records -- Peterson is 0-2-1 and Rumpel 1-5-1 -- reflect more on the play in front of them rather than their individual showings. 

A year after Rumpel seemed to establish himself as the No. 1 guy with a strong performance down the stretch, Peterson has answered by closing the gap during the first seven weeks of this season.

Just as Rumpel has a signature outing -- a 2-0 shutout at Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 26 -- Peterson has kept pace thanks to his 41-save effort in a 2-2 overtime draw Nov. 16 at Minnesota.

Peterson, from Oregon, has upgraded his conditioning and his athleticism from his rookie year when he went 5-6 with an 89.6 save ratio and 3.01 goals against.  

Going into a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series Friday and Saturday at Denver, Peterson had been tabbed to start the previous two openers vs. Minnesota and Minnesota State-Mankato.

But after considerable discussion between Eaves and his assistants, Rumpel got the nod to face the Pioneers in the opener at Magness Arena. The decision wasn't made until after the coaches deliberated at the team meal Thursday night.

Question: Where are you most improved as a goaltender from a season ago?

Landon Peterson: "I'd have to say being more comfortable with the play -- adjusting and being more quicker with plays and being more athletic.''

Q: What's the key to competing for a job against a good friend like Joel?

LP: "Just working hard and doing the things you can control. Stay focused. Work hard day in and day out. Just make sure you're doing your job.''

Q: So you don't worry about sentiment?

LP: "We're teammates. We're friends. Everything is a friendly competition.''

Q: Any pregame rituals?

LP: "Not too many. Just drinking water to stay hydrated. I'm not a goalie who's very superstitious or anything.''

Q: What's the last class you aced?

LP: "Nutritional science last year.''

Q: What's the percentage split for you between student and athlete?

LP: "Probably 50-50 for this year. School's been pretty tough. I'm taking a lot of hard classes this year, but it's good. It keeps me busy. I'm not off playing video games or getting in trouble.''

Q: Best money you ever spent?

LP: "Probably my first-ever car in high school. It was an Audi A-6.''

Q: One of your childhood buddies is Ethan Hemer, who plays football for the Badgers. Do you ever compare notes about your lives?

LP: "We never really compare lives, but we talk about them a lot. We talk about team aspects of how we do things and run things as a system. He talks about how they do it as a football team. It's pretty comparable with the schedules and stuff. They're a lot busier -- they have a lot more guys -- so their practices are a little longer.''

Q: What's it like on the bench during a game? Is it chaotic or is it a generally pretty calm?

LP: "It's a pretty calm place to be.''

Q: Who's got the hardest shot on this team?

LP: "Joe Faust.''

Q: Who's got the best shot?

LP: "Man, I don't know. I could tell you (who has) the worst shot -- Brendan Woods or Gavin Hartzog (amid laughter knowing Woods is within earshot) -- but the best shot? You'll have to come back to that one.''

Q: Your greatest asset as a goaltender?

LP: "Tough question. I'd say being competitive. Not giving up. Being relentless.''

Q: Once again, who's got the best shot on the team?

LP: "I'll give it to my roommate, Joseph LaBate.''


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