It’s been 16 years since an incoming freshman class has come into the University of Wisconsin’s men’s hockey program with the weight of a national championship title on its shoulders. Head coach Mike Eaves knew he needed a group of young men with high potential to add to an already elite team and was fortunate enough to sign nine of the top incoming freshmen in the nation.”We got some good players and we very much like the potential of the freshmen, that’s why we got them,” Eaves said. However, the team doesn’t expect the newcomers to come out looking like seniors on the ice by any means. “It’s important that they know it’s going to take a good half of a season before they reach their potential,” Eaves said. “So look for it around Christmas time.” But it’s the veteran players who are using their experience and leading the rookies in a good direction on and off of the ice.”The veterans are teaching us just like the coaches,” freshman forward Andy Bohmbach said. “They criticize us, but also praise us in everything that we do.” For Bohmbach, it has been senior Jake Dowell who has been pushing him on the ice so far.”He is the most intimidating player on the team right now because he’s been hitting me pretty hard in practice,” Bohmbach said.The big difference between college and high school hockey is the pace is faster, the players are stronger and there is little room for error. This is what has the rookies a bit nervous when it comes to the weekend opener at the Kohl Center, when the Badgers take on the North Dakota Fighting Sioux.”I am going to have a lot of butterflies in the first few minutes of the game this Friday,” freshman forward Mike Davies said. “Of course I will be nervous, but then there’s going to be a time when I have to forget about the 15,000 fans and just do what I came to do, which is play my game.”There may be a little less nervousness in Davies’ stomach this weekend, considering he already tallied his first two goals as a Badger in the season opener against Northern Michigan University last weekend. It came as a surprise to everyone, even the referee. “The ref came up to me and said ‘He’s only a freshman isn’t he?’ and I go ‘Yep,'” said Eaves. “I can’t even explain the feeling after my two goals,” said Davies. “All I wanted to do last weekend was get my feet wet and get a feel for the game, so I was shocked of course when I got one goal, but to get two. That was just awesome.” The opening series against Northern Michigan University was a success ending with a win and a tie, but some of the new guys are already looking forward to being a part of Wisconsin’s big rivalry games.”Not only am I looking forward to playing the Gophers, but I can’t wait for Boston College either,” Davies said. While the newcomers know working together and pushing for their best is their top priority at the moment, they recognize the pressure of coming to a team that is the reigning national champion.”We definitely have some big shoes to fill,” defenseman Jamie McBain said.No matter how big the shoes, Eaves and the upperclassmen know how much talent and skill the nine new freshmen will add to the team. Taking on new challenges, continuing to learn and improve and adapting to a new fast-paced game will hopefully lead to the day when these nine fresh faces can grasp the title of the NCAA National Hockey Champions themselves.