Cole Caufield was one of the first to get the NCAA hockey season going with the University of Wisconsin last November.
He doesn't seem to be in a hurry to wrap up things nearly seven months later.
Caufield's overtime assist Monday night helped the Montreal Canadiens complete a four-game sweep of the Winnipeg Jets in the second round of the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs.
Caufield is the sixth player to win the Hobey Baker Award as NCAA men's hockey's top player and compete in the NHL playoffs in the same season. Montreal's 3-2 victory over the Jets made him only the second in that group to have his team get past the second round.
The other was Minnesota's Neal Broten, the first Hobey winner in 1981. He played in the Stanley Cup Final that year, but his Minnesota North Stars lost to the New York Islanders.
Caufield is the fourth among former Badgers players to go from college to the NHL playoffs the same year. Three have been with Montreal (David Maley in the Stanley Cup-winning 1986 season, Sean Hill in 1991 and Caufield); John Byce did it with Boston in 1990.
Maley, a forward who played for the Badgers from 1982 to 1986, is one of two players who has been on a Cup-winning team in the same year as finishing his college career, according to College Hockey Inc. North Dakota's Shane Gersich (Washington, 2018) is the other.
Caufield still has that chance with Montreal, which trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven first-round series against Toronto before he helped start a comeback. The Stevens Point native assisted on Nick Suzuki's overtime goal in Game 5, the start of what has become a seven-game winning streak for the Canadiens.
Caufield's biggest fan has noticed that Montreal is 7-2 since the former Badgers star entered the lineup in Game 3 against Toronto.
The Canadiens will play the winner of the Colorado-Vegas series in the semifinals. The Avalanche and Golden Knights are tied 2-2 in a series that continues Tuesday night in Denver.
Caufield started his season with the Badgers on Nov. 13 as part of the first NCAA Division I men's hockey game of a delayed season. He won a gold medal with the U.S. at the World Junior Championship then helped UW win the Big Ten regular-season championship.
The only break in his season has been the week he had to spend in quarantine after signing with the Canadiens in March.
A reporter asked him before Sunday's Game 3 to reflect on the decision a year ago that had Caufield return to the Badgers for a second season. UW coach Tony Granato thought it was the best thing for the development of the high-scoring winger's total game.
"I think Tony was absolutely right," Caufield said. "Part of me wanted to make the jump, but it was what's best for my career to go back and get more experience.
"I think being mature and ready for the next step, it's a big step and something that I've had to make adjustments early on and day to day, too. So you learn from each game and you grow and make adjustments along the way. The guys made me feel pretty comfortable and the coaching staff has done a great job welcoming me in and teaching me real fast how to play here."
Caufield hasn't scored in nine playoff games but his assist Monday was his fourth.
Look back on State Journal coverage of Badgers men's hockey games in the 2020-21 season
Read stories from University of Wisconsin men's hockey games in the 2020-21 season.
Bemidji State was the aggressor from the beginning and kept UW from playing the brand of hockey it has used to generate scoring chances.
The Badgers paid for a lackluster effort in the second period as the Gophers beat UW for the first time in six championship-round games.
Cole Caufield scored his 27th goal of the season 6 minutes, 50 seconds into the extra session to send the fifth-ranked Badgers past the Nittany Lions 4-3 on Monday in the Big Ten semifinals.
Cole Caufield scores twice to give the Badgers a 2-1 victory at Michigan State and the Big Ten title on the final day of the regular season.
Robbie Beydoun, playing in his home state, makes 28 saves as the Badgers keep the heat on Minnesota in the chase for the Big Ten title.
If a 7-0 victory against Ohio State at LaBahn Arena was Cole Caufield's last time playing at home for the Badgers, it was the kind of effort UW fans will want to remember him by.
Holloway scored twice on the power play to lead the Badgers past the Buckeyes.
Ty Pelton-Byce scored twice for the Badgers, including the tying goal with 26.8 seconds left after UW let two third-period leads slip away.
Coach Tony Granato went down the lineup in handing out individual laurels for good chances created, hits dished out or composed plays in the defensive zone.
The Badgers erase the sour taste of their largest loss of the season with their first victory at Michigan in their past eight tries.
A four-goal second period by the Wolverines was the difference after the Badgers took the lead.
No. 11 UW is alone atop the conference standings after completing its first series sweep at Minnesota in 12 years with an emphatic 8-1 victory against the second-ranked Golden Gophers.
Cole Caufield broke a tie with seven minutes remaining and Dylan Holloway figured in two goals in the following 2:18 as Wisconsin beat Minnesota 4-1.
Cole Caufield scores two goals for the second straight game and Linus Weissbach records his first three-point game of the season.
Robbie Beydoun stopped 19 shots for his second shutout of the season.
After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, the Badgers couldn't pull all the way back with a late push.
The Badgers scored two power-play goals to win at Penn State for the first time in five tries.
A third-period penalty kill was "probably the biggest five minutes of our season so far," Badgers coach Tony Granato said.
UW freshman Cameron Rowe makes 11 saves for his first shutout.
The Badgers outshot the Gophers but paid the price for turnovers, a slow line change and a bad penalty.
Beydoun made 35 saves as the Badgers knocked off the Gophers in their first game since Dec. 4.
Cameron Rowe made 40 saves in his first collegiate start as the Badgers split a series at the Buckeyes.
The Badgers have lost all three games since four forwards became unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol.
Sophomore Jax Murray scored his first two collegiate goals for the Sun Devils as the Badgers fell to .500.
The Badgers were missing five forwards, one of whom sources said was held out because of a positive COVID-19 test and three others who were close contacts.
Caufield had his second hat trick for the Badgers and Tarek Baker scored a key short-handed goal.
Robbie Beydoun made a career-high 49 saves for the Badgers.
Missing their top two centers, the Badgers nearly emerged with a split against the sixth-ranked Wolverines.
The Wolverines scored three times in the final 5 minutes, 22 seconds of the second period to turn a deficit into a two-goal lead going into the intermission.
Dylan Holloway's third-period goal put the Badgers ahead for good after they lost two-goal and one-goal leads.
Linus Weissbach helped provide the offense and Robbie Beydoun was a stable presence in goal in the Badgers' 2-0 victory over No. 20 Notre Dame.