Overtime Blues

Badger Men's Hockey swept by Michigan Tech with back to back overtime losses

It's amazing that a program like Wisconsin, with its rich history and success can be so abysmal when it comes to overtime. Since the start of the 2007 hockey season, the Badger Men's hockey team is 1-12-19 in games played after regulation, with their only win coming last season against lowly Canisius.

Three of those overtime losses have already come this season, including two over the weekend on the road at Michigan Tech. Friday night Jordan Baker was the hero for the Huskies, converting on a controversial goal for the win. Saturday night, Superior, WI native Brett Olson buried a wrap around to complete the sweep.

It became a running joke the past few seasons, as the overtime futility continued to mount. When the Badgers finally broke through against Canisius, it was like a giant storm cloud that had been hanging over the team had finally cleared up. It's possible that cloud hasn't quite dissipated.

Wisconsin came out on it's heels on Friday night, as was expected for a young team making their first WCHA road trip of the season. For the third time in three games, the Badgers found themselves playing from behind.

A shot from the point from Husky defenseman Riley Sweeny was redirected by Tanner Kero over the glove of Wisconsin freshman net-minder Landon Peterson, making his second career start.

Despite not playing well most of the night, the Badgers refused to quit. On a power play late in the third period, the Badgers were able to find the net, and tie the game. After receiving a pass from Justin Schultz, sophomore Mark Zengerle found fellow classmate Tyler Barnes open in the corner. Using his body to shield the puck, Barnes swiftly cut to the net and made a nice move around Tech goaltender Josh Robinson and deposited the puck in the open net.

The score would remain tied until the overtime session. And that's when things get interesting.

As the puck is dumped in the Wisconsin zone, Peterson leaves his crease to play the puck behind the net. At the same time, Badger captain John Ramage is also skating to the back of the net to retrieve the puck he assumed Peterson would leave for him.

Just as Ramage is approaching Peterson, Tech forward Blake Pietila hits Ramage into Peterson, knocking both Badgers to the ice. The puck is freed, and Husky forward Brett Olson picks it up and finds Jordan Baker all alone in front with nothing but an open net to shoot at.

Despite a clear case of goaltender interference, and a desperate plea from the Badger bench, the referees determined the goal counted.

Saturday night was another typical game for this Badger squad. For the fourth time in four games, Wisconsin fell behind first. Like Friday night, Tech forward Tanner Kero was led off the game with a goal. Kero was positioned on the side of the net and was able to re-direct a Daniel Sova shot past Badger goalie Joel Rumpel.

The Badgers were able to bounce back in the second period on a great effort from their fourth line. Keegan Meuer followed up his own shot that had hit the post and beat Tech goaltender Josh Robinson top shelf to even the game at one apiece.

After the game Badger coach Mike Eaves was very complimentary of his fourth line that also features Brad Navin and Gavin Hartzog and explained why they saw extra ice time on Saturday.

"They were very, very good tonight. They were not our fourth line tonight. They deserved the ice time they got, and they got some additional ice time.

The third period saw both teams with multiple scoring opportunities. Tech would take the lead a couple minutes into the third when a bouncing puck deflected off a Tech player in front of the Badger net and past Rumpel.

It looked like the Badgers had a golden opportunity late in the game when a Tech player was given a five minute major penalty. Unfortunately Wisconsin squandered the opportunity, and didn't get a single good look offensively during their man advantage.

The Badgers could have packed it in right there, but they showed some mettle according to Eaves.

"That was one of those moments within the course of the weekend we learned about our team. Because we were not very good. Our guys were frustrated. It was about, what's the definition of mental toughness? Working through tough times. Although we weren't successful on that power pay, we could have just crumbled right there. We didn't."

Crumble they did not. The Badgers top line showed some flash and were able to send the game to overtime. Zengerle busted down the left side boards and at the last minute was able to find a streaking Barnes in the slot who buried his second goal of the weekend to force overtime. Schultz was also credited with an assist on the play.

The extra session didn't last long for the Badgers. Michigan Tech forward Brett Olson, who has admitted to carrying a chip on his shoulder for not being recruited by his home state Badgers picked up a loose puck behind the Badger goal. Trying to prevent the wrap around, Badger goalie Joel Rumpel tried to poke check the puck from Olson as he was coming around the net. Unfortunately, Rumpels attempt missed, and Olson found the five hole for the game winner.

The Badgers will be back in action on Friday night as they host the University of North Dakota in the first WCHA series at the Kohl Center this season.

Friday Night Highlights via "Tech Hockey Guide"

Saturday Night Highlights

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For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Chuck on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz)

Chuck can also be reached via e-mail at chuckschwartz@live.com

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