No. 1 Bulldogs tie, win against Badgers 3-3, 4-2
Coming into the season, the Wisconsin men's hockey team knew they had an uphill battle to climb with their inexperienced roster. Things certainly haven't gotten any easier by the injuries they've had to battle to key members of the team.
However through all of that, the Badgers have shown the ability to compete with any team in the country. That didn't change this weekend as top ranked, and defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth came to town.
Friday night the Badgers came out hard and showed off why they are such a dangerous team at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead before UMD notched two of their own in the second to tie it. The teams traded goals in the third, and after a scoreless overtime period finished 3-3.
Saturday night the Bulldogs were the ones to jump out early. UMD scored just 1:39 in to the first period and built a 4-0 lead after two periods. A furious comeback in the third by the Badgers wasn't enough, as Wisconsin netted two goals but fell 4-2 to the top ranked Bulldogs.
That two goal lead Friday night was started when freshman Brad Navin, a Waupaca native notched his first goal as a Badger. Stationed out in front of the net on the power play, Navin tipped a Frankie Simonelli shot past UMD goaltender Kenny Reiter.
"It was a nice step forward for Brad tonight, getting that first goal. But his game has been opening up, you see the confidence level in a couple different areas. Now when he goes in to hit, he hits with authority," Badger head coach Mike Eaves noted after the game.
"He’s making his decisions quicker and he’s shooting the puck with authority, so you can see the youth start to wane away a little bit and a college hockey player just starting to emerge."
Four minutes later, Badger blue-liner Justin Schultz would give the Badgers a 2-0 lead.
"It was a great start, the best case scenario you would hope for. We played well, moved the puck crisply, and got some goals," Eaves said.
"But when you’re around this game long enough you recognize that 2-0 is the falsest lead in the game of hockey, and that’s what happened."
Just two minutes into the second period UMD got on the scoreboard when a shot from the point deflected off Badger captain John Ramage and beat Badger goalie Joel Rumpel.
Two minutes later UMD's Wade Bergman would tie it at two when he jammed the puck past Rumpel.
Proving once again why he's the front runner for the Hobey Baker, Schultz put the Badgers up 3-2 just 28 seconds into the third period when his shot from the point handcuffed Reiter.
Wisconsin center Mark Zengele talked about Schultz's offensive ability after the game. "He’s the best in college hockey at getting those pucks through and it’s just a matter of time before one of them goes in. If you give him shooting lanes it’s probably going to go in more times than not."
The Badger lead didn't last long however. UMD freshman Caleb Herbert was credited with the game tying goal when a shot from the blue line fooled Rumpel and found the back of the net.
The shot appeared to change course by the way of a UMD player re-directing it with his hand. However, since no officials saw the illegal re-direction, and the puck was illegally touched so far away from the goal, the goal stood.
The Badgers had multiple opportunities the rest of the game but couldn't get another one past Reiter. After a five minute overtime period, the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
Saturday night it was UMD's Hobey candidate that got the Bulldogs on the board first. It wasn't a good goal by any means. In fact, it seemed to deflect of Schultz and somehow made its way into the cage.
"My guy was going behind the net and I was following him. He kind of shot it wide and it took an unlucky bounce off my shin pad then short sided on Rumpel," Schultz noted after the Saturday game. "It was really unlucky. It just found that spot. I don't even really know how it went in."
UMD really busted the game open in the second period, scoring three more goals to create a 4-0 lead that would prove insurmountable for the Badgers. Max Tardy, Travis Oleksuk, and Mike Seidel were the second period goal scorers for the Bulldogs.
The Badgers mounted a come back in the third period, outscoring the No. 1 Bulldogs 2-0 in the final stanza of the weekend. Navin recorded his second goal of the weekend and his second of his career when he beat Reiter with 7:19 to play in the third.
Wisconsin cut the Bulldog lead to 4-2 with 2:30 remaining on a 6 on 3 goal by Zengerle. The goal extended Zengerle's consecutive game point streak to 17.
With a couple of UMD players in the penalty box, Eaves pulled his goaltender to play with the three man advantage with the urging of assistant coach Gary Shuchuk.
"It showed that we weren't going to quit and that we were going to do everything to get ourselves back in the game. We were able to execute and get the puck in the net."
Despite their late charge, the Badgers simply didn't have the juice to come back from four goals against the best team in the country.
While they certainly aren't happy about only recording one point on the weekend, the guys in the Badger locker room took some positives away from the series as they head into the second half after the holiday break.
"I don't think it was too big of a step back. We didn't' get what we wanted to get done out there tonight. We're still learning," Schultz said after the Saturday contest. "We have a break here. We're going to look forward to coming back and trying to get some wins out of there."
Notes from the weekend
- Mark Zengerle extended his consecutive game point streak to 17 games. That ties him with Mark Johnson for the second longest streak in Wisconsin history. Mike Eaves holds the record at 21 games.
- Freshman Brad Navin scored the first goal of his Badger career. Navin had the best weekend of his career with two goals and an assist.
- Freshman Matt Paape played center for the first time as a Badger this weekend. In limited action, Paape was even in the face-off circle (4 wins, 4 losses).
- Zengerle led the charge for the badgers in the circle going 33-26 on the weekend. Joseph LaBate went 9-8, and Jefferson Dahl 14-13.
- Joel Rumpel started in net both nights but was pulled on Saturday after giving up the fourth goal. Landon Peterson stopped all 11 shots he faced in reserve.
- Wisconsin kept UMD star Jack Connolly in check most of the weekend despite him being credited with 4 points. His goal was from the corner and deflected off a Badger. His Friday assist was a gift secondary assist on another shot that hit a Badger and went in. And his two Saturday assists were also secondary assists.
- Paid attendance on Saturday was 12,620. Paid attendance on Friday was 10,925.
- Freshman Brendan Woods looked like he was knocked unconscious on Saturday after he was checked from behind. However after being evaluated on the bench, Woods finished the contest.
- Sean Little played both nights. Two weeks ago against Mercyhurst he suffered a leg injury and missed the Saturday game of that series.
- It was the first weekend back for Jake McCabe since the North Dakota series in October. McCabe finished the weekend with one assist, was even in the +/- category, and had four shots on goal.
- Wisconsin was 3-15 on the PP this weekend. However, they played much better than those numbers suggest. They recorded 19 shots with the man advantage.
- UMD was 1-9 on the PP this weekend. It's one of the best showings for the Badger PK all season, and it came against a really talented opponent.
Wisconsin Weekend Player Points
WCHA Movers and Shakers
Minnesota-Duluth @ Wisconsin: UMD 3 points
Alabama-Huntsville @ Minnesota State: Minnesota State sweep
Nebraska-Omaha @ North Dakota: Split
Michigan Tech @ Minnesota: Split
Alaska-Anchorage @ Colorado College: Split
Denver @ Bemidji States: Split
Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!
For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Chuck on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz)
Chuck can also be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org