Former NCAA teammates Skille, Street reunited with Avalanche
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When freshmen linemates Jack Skille and Ben Street won the 2006 NCAA championship together at the University of Wisconsin, they were forever joined at the hip.
The saying “we walk together for life” rang true.
Little did they know that they would again play together, in the NHL for the Colorado Avalanche. Street, called up from the American Hockey League in early November, is centering a line with Skille and Dennis Everberg. At Wisconsin, Street centered Skille and left winger Ross Carlson, the oldest player on the team. Street and Skille were 18-year-old true freshmen.
“It doesn’t often happen that you end up on a line with someone from college,” Street said. “We came from completely different backgrounds into college. He’s from Madison (Wis.) and I’m Canadian. But we had good chemistry, and still do.”
Street (above) and Skille were among four Badgers freshmen on the championship team in 2005-06 and they combined for 23 goals, with each reaching 10 goals. San Jose Sharks veteran forward Joe Pavelski, a two-time U.S. Olympian, led the Badgers with 56 points. Wisconsin’s other stars included forwards Robbie Earl and Adam Burish, defenseman Tom Gilbert and goalie Brian Elliott, who also briefly played for the Avs.
It was a storybook Wisconsin team that beat Ohio State University and current Colorado defenseman Nate Guenin in an outdoor game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., won its NCAA Regional in Green Bay and then the Frozen Four in Milwaukee.
“We were two of four incoming freshmen and we obviously had a lot in common, despite the fact we never played with or against each other before college,” Skille said of him and Street. “The team — we just had a really solid team from the net out. It was a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Skille played two years for the Badgers before signing with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him seventh overall in the 2005 NHL draft. Street, who went undrafted, played five years at Wisconsin, obtaining a redshirt year as a junior because of an early season-ending injury.
“We won our first year, and then our team got picked apart,” said Street, who also watched Pavelski and Earl leave college early. “The second year wasn’t as good and Jack left and I stayed.”
Skille, who is in his first year with the Avs, didn’t have a funny college story about Street, but Street, who signed with Colorado before the 2014-15 season, had a handful of stories to share about Skille.
“(Wisconsin) coach (Mike Eaves) called him a young stallion,” said Street. “He skates like a horse, I guess. That’s where it came from. And I don’t think his full name is Jackson, but everyone called him Jackson.”
These days, “Jackson” and “Streeter” see each other every summer in Madison, along with other former Badgers.
“We have a pro camp every August,” Skille said. “Streeter, he trains in Chicago all season, but I see him end-of-summer every year. It’s a good facility and good chance for guys to come back and get ready.”
Photos/Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
— Mike Chambers