Feb. 15, 2012
The official Gameday Program at each Badgers home series includes player profiles. This feature is just one of the exclusive items available inside the program, which is available for purchase on game day at Kohl Center or online at NationalWClub.com. Today we look at senior defenseman Eric Springer who was featured in the program for the Mercyhurst series. | Purchase Gameday Programs
BY MARK BENNETT
MADISON, Wis. -- Senior Eric Springer, the lone senior on this year's squad, has been part of two national championship games for Wisconsin.
The first came in 2006 when Springer, then a 17-year-old high school skater, sat in the stands at the Bradley Center, a fan cheering the Badgers on to their sixth NCAA championship.
"I pretty much wanted to go here after that," Springer said. "It was still was a matter of getting here and them wanting me, but that's where I wanted to be."
For his next Frozen Four experience, Springer had an undoubtedly better seat-- wearing the cardinal and white sweater as a sophomore for the Badgers in the 2010 title game.
For Springer, playing at Wisconsin is a dream come true--growing up in the small town of Wrightstown, Wis., UW was really the only program he had to look up to.
After that 2006 national championship, Springer says he knew UW was at the top of his list, but his life took a few stops beyond Wisconsin's borders before he eventually made it back home.
Springer spent his senior year in Naperville, Ill., where he attended a high school more than twice the size of Wrightstown. Upon graduation, Springer went to Sioux Falls, S.D. where he played for the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede.
It's in Sioux Falls where schools, including Wisconsin, really began to take notice of Springer's talent. During the 2007-08 season, Springer recorded 31 points, including eight goals in 60 games.
"I did pretty well that year," Springer said. "They [Wisconsin] talked to me, brought me out and I committed."
Springer says the invite to join the Badgers was both a dream as well as a relief.
"You work hard growing up, and it was certainly one of my goals--just to be able to play Division 1 college hockey and just to do it here is a dream come true," Springer said.
Springer fell right back into place on the ice in Wisconsin. In fact, he could have hardly begun his career with the Badgers in more impressive fashion--a goal his first night on the ice.
"First game, first shot.
"I was thinking, I might not even be here four years," Springer joked. "At that point I didn't know if I was going to have a senior season if I was going to score every shot I took."
That goal against Boston College, as it turns out, stood as his lone career goal for a long time.
"I wish it would happen again one of these times, but I'm sure it will," Springer said earlier this season
On Nov. 26 in a 5-2 win over Mercyhurst, that prediction came true when Springer scored his second ever career goal--over three years after his first.
But Springer knows his role on the ice is not one that will throw him to the top of the score sheet every night.
"I just try to be a good puck-moving defenseman and play solid defense," Springer said. "It's not my job to go out there and make a ton of crazy plays happen, but just play strong defensively and get the puck up to the forwards and let them make the plays."
Some of Springer's top accomplishments while at the University of Wisconsin have, in fact, come far away from the ice. A two-time Academic All-WCHA and an Academic All-Big Ten athlete as a junior, Springer considers himself a bright bulb in the pack.
"It's real important and it feels good just to do well," Springer, a consumer affairs major said. "And there's a lot on my plate and still to be able to do well, I'm proud of myself in that regard. Growing up, that was something that was always stressed in my family."
As a senior, Springer says he feels comfortable with his role as someone younger players look up to. But it's one of those younger guys who Springer claims he can credit for actually saving his life.
"The worst moment was probably this summer- we did a team building thing with Navy Seals guys," Springer said. "And we did a little bit in the pool and I'm a little dense--I tend to sink. And there were some questionable moments there, but [sophomore] Tyler Barnes saved me that day. Without him, I don't know if I would have made it."
Still alive and skating, Springer plays an important role for the Badgers this season, both on the ice and as a leader.
He's also among a few several thousand seniors at the university right now, most of who likely have only a vague idea of what comes next.
For Springer though, he's more concerned about the now.
"I'm not looking that far into it," Springer said. "I'm just focusing on my classes and hockey and that's really all I think I have time to do right now."