The funny thing is, you knew exactly what was happening, so there was no point even allowing yourself to become emotionally invested in the outcome.
Once Tom Gorowsky's goal to put Wisconsin up 4-2 with about six minutes left in the third was waved off as a result off the senior allegedly kicking the puck into the net, the Badgers lost all momentum.
A Ryan McDonagh penalty moments later led to a power play, and, predictably, Minnesota State tied it up 3-3 late in the third on the man advantage.
And then, with nothing left in the tank heading into overtime, Minnesota State handed Wisconsin its third straight loss, and third consecutive loss in overtime.
After the game, the team seemed puzzled about referee Todd Anderson and Pete Freesma's ruling that Gorowsky had kicked the puck into the net off the Derek Stepan feed. While they probably had a good gripe, as it appeared Gorowsky was actually skating away from the net and did not appear to have any momentum going toward the puck, and after the game Gorowsky claimed he did not know he even touched the puck, the game should not have come down to this.
For the second straight time with a two goal lead, the Badgers failed to hold on. Up 3-1 late in the second period, one in which they dominated, outshooting the Mavericks 24-8, a costly Wisconsin turnover led to a Mankato goal with under 20 seconds left, making it an entirely different puckgame entering the locker room.
Now, with only a one goal lead, Wisconsin ceased its offensive operation for the evening, putting just six shots on Mike Zacharias in the third period and overtime. While much of Wisconsin's second period success was due to being on the power play, as the Badgers got three power play goals in the period, six shots in the final 23 minutes will never do the trick. This has been a fairly constant theme for Wisconsin in its losses this season...a failure to capitalize on a one or two goal lead.
Once again, Wisconsin headed to overtime with negative momentum, giving up the lead, instead of coming back to tie the game. Once again, Wisconsin failed to win a game in overtime (now 16 straight, dating back to its last OT win against St. Cloud State in the Final Five third place game in March of 2007). And once again, Wisconsin lost in overtime, now three straight.
This team has been in many different positions to win games that it has lost this season. This is a team that has scored first in 23 of its 33 games, but has only 16 wins to show for it. The Badgers have blown a three goal lead to an under .500 Northern Michigan team and lost in overtime. They have been tied in third periods at home against CC and UMD, and failed to get the go ahead goal. They have given up a goal with under 15 seconds left in the third to a Denver team they outplayed for 55 minutes, and then fallen in overtime. And now, they blow a two goal lead to a mediocre Minnesota State squad, and now, back at 19th in the PairWise, can only imagine what the NCAA Tournament would have been like.
I don't know if there is necessarily anyone to blame. Shane Connelly had a good night in net last night, not much he could do when his team gave up a 3 on 1 odd man rush in overtime. The offense collectively fell asleep in the third period and overtime, but I don't know if that falls on the offense or the coaching. I think when you have a lead, you try to add to it. It's not unlike football. When you're up by 10 in the fourth quarter with 12 minutes left and you go into the prevent defense and start running it up the middle three straight times whenever you have the ball, well, you won't win by 10. For some reason, this team has been unable, besides one game against CC, to add to third period leads. I think once or twice you call it luck, after that, it's more than luck.
The season isn't entirely over yet. Wisconsin sits at 19th in the PairWise so its unlikely to receive an at large birth, and at this point will probably need to either get to the Final Five Championship Game or win the Final Five to get in. The Badgers can clinch a home spot in the first round of the playoffs with a win tonight, a Denver win, and a Minnesota Duluth win.or tie.
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