Photo Credit: Larry Radloff/INCHWriters.com
Wisconsin dropped its home opener Friday night, 5-4, on the same night the university named the Kohl Center's ice surface after Bob Johnson.
It was a great day for hockey in Madison Friday night. Unfortunately for the Badgers, the result wasn't.
Before Colorado College and Badgers did battle in their series opener, the University of Wisconsin held a ceremony to officially name the Kohl Center ice in honor of 'Badger' Bob Johnson.
Johnson, the architect behind Wisconsin's first three hockey national championships would be proud of what the Badger hockey program has accomplished not only the men's side, but the women's as well.
Of course his son Mark has built the Badger women into a perennial power, and Mark and the rest of the Johnson clan were on hand to see their family's legacy enshrined on the ice.
From now on, the ice at the Kohl Center will be known as the Bob Johnson Rink.
Badger head coach Mike Eaves--who won a national championship as a player under Johnson--touched on the significance of the ceremony.
"It was a special game. Seeing Mark's (Johnson) whole family out there and watching that historical line about Bob really made it special."
Unfortunately for the Badgers, Friday night's result wasn't what they would have liked. Wisconsin built an early two goal first period lead, but Colorado College pocketed the two league points after an Alexander Krushelnyski overtime goal.
The Badgers got the fast start they were looking for, getting on the board just 1:29 into the first period after a bouncing puck found its way across the goal line. Junior Michael Mersch was credited with the goal, his fourth of the season.
Wisconsin would extend their lead to 2-0 half a period later when sophomore Brad Navin buried his first goal of the season.
Freshman Morgan Zulinick carried the puck hard into the zone and threw the puck towards the net. Navin found himself in the right spot and was able to out-muscle a Tiger defenseman for the loose puck before he finished the play.
Despite the two goal lead, Eaves didn't think his club had a great first period.
"Even when we were up 2-0 we weren't playing well. We got a couple bounces."
The Badgers took that lead into the first intermission, but you knew that CC was going to fight back in the second period.
"We know that they play with heart, and they'd lost three in a row, so we knew they were going to be upset, so I'm not surprised," Eaves said after the game.
Like clockwork, the Tigers bounced back as freshman forward Hunter Fejes pulled CC within one early in the second stanza. The Shattuck St. Mary's product cut across the slot and ripped a wrister past Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel for his first career goal.
Two minutes later Colorado College defenseman Mike Boivin would tie the score at two, putting the pressure back on the home team.
The two teams would stay scoreless the rest of the period, despite the Tigers dominating much of the action.
Wisconsin was able to swing the momentum back in their favor early in the third period when Jake McCabe notched a power-play tally off a nice passing play from Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes just 54 seconds into the third.
Like most of the night, CC was able to find an answer.
After sucking in three defenders towards him in the Badgers defensive zone, CC's Krushelnyski was able to thread a pass to Scott Winkler who was able to snap one off the post and past Rumpel to tie the score at three.
CC's momentum would continue in the third, as they were able to bury their second power-play goal of the night.
After a highly questionable call to John Ramage, CC's Eamonn McDermott was able to fire a nice pass to spring William Rapuzzi on a break away. Rapuzzi did the rest, giving the Tigers a 4-3 advantage.
The defensive breakdown was just one of many in a frustrating night for the Badger blue-line.
Eaves noted after the game that Wisconsin hadn't skated on the Kohl Center ice since early October, but sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe wasn't willing to use that crutch after the loss.
"Our systems have to adapt to the different dimensions of the rink," McCabe said. "We can't use it as an excuse."
Down a goal with under five minutes to play, it was Madison native Keegan Meuer who stepped up for the Badgers to get the big goal that they needed.
Zulinick and Derek Lee were able to connect on a nice passing play to get the puck to Meuer out front who was able to bury one behind Tiger goaltender Josh Thorimbert.
Meuer's goal seemed to energize the paltry crowd of 8,643 late in the contest, and the red-shirt junior forward felt like they could carry that momentum into overtime.
"We're at home, the crowd's feeling it. Everybody on the bench, we've got the momentum, we're thinking we're going to win," Meuer said after the game. "I thought we had it."
Unfortunately for the Badgers, Colorado College still had a little gas left in the tank.
After Rumpel misplayed a puck on the side of the net, CC's John Taft was able to find a wide open Krushelnyski for his third goal of the season, and the game winner.
While Rumpel looked solid at times in the contest, it certainly wasn't his best game of the season.
After the game Eaves thought that Rumpel would have liked to do things differently on a few of those opportunities.
"I think if you asked Joel, he'd like to have some of those goals back, I'll be honest. I think that if you asked him that question, he'd say `I've got to be better'. And I tend to agree with him."
While the Badgers dropped the game, it was still a special celebration at the Kohl Center Friday night.
Meuer, who has a family legacy of his own at Wisconsin with both of his uncles being former Wisconsin hockey players, noted after the game that he might not even be a Badger hockey player if it weren't for Badger Bob.
"It's really special to me, because my grandfather was Bob Johnson's best friend, and without my grandfather meeting him I never would have played hockey," Meuer said. "So it was really special to me"
Wisconsin and Colorado College will be back at it Saturday night in the series finale. Game time is 7:05.
||1st Period (20:00)||
|WIS||1||-||0||6x6||Michael Mersch (4) (Keegan Meuer, Derek Lee)||1:29|
|WIS (+): 23,28,25,12,55,G33 CC (-): 5,7,16,15,25,G39|
|CC-1 Scott Winkler (2-Tripping) WIS 0x1||4:52|
|WIS-1 Joseph LaBate (2-High-Sticking) CC 0x1||9:25|
|WIS||2||-||0||6x6||Brad Navin (1) (Morgan Zulinick)||12:33|
|WIS (+): 15,26,8,28,24,G33 CC (-): 7,5,19,14,18,G39|
||2nd Period (20:00)||
|CC||1||-||2||6x6||Hunter Fejes (1) (Jeff Collett, Eamonn McDermott)||6:35|
|CC (+): 11,20,15,21,7,G39 WIS (-): 14,18,20,19,27,G33|
|WIS-2 John Ramage (2-Tripping) CC 1x2||7:25|
|CC||2||-||2||6x5 PP||Mike Boivin (1) (Eamonn McDermott, Rylan Schwartz)||8:22|
|CC: 28,7,13,25,27,G39 WIS: 12,18,24,28,G33|
|CC-2 Andrew Hamburg (2-Cross-Checking) WIS 1x2||19:46|
||3rd Period (20:00)||
|WIS||3||-||2||6x5 PP||Jake McCabe (1) (Tyler Barnes, Mark Zengerle)||0:54|
|WIS: 19,7,9,23,25,G33 CC: 6,28,13,16,G39|
|CC||3||-||3||6x6||Scott Winkler (4) (Alexander Krushelnyski, Peter Stoykewych)||5:02|
|CC (+): 25,16,6,28,17,G39 WIS (-): 28,24,15,23,25,G33|
|Timeout - Colorado College||8:08|
|WIS-3 John Ramage (2-Interference) CC 2x3||9:39|
|CC||4||-||3||6x5 PP||William Rapuzzi (3) (Eamonn McDermott, Josh Thorimbert)||10:54|
|CC: 27,7,4,16,13,G39 WIS: 22,12,18,24,G33|
|WIS||4||-||4||6x6||Keegan Meuer (1) (Derek Lee, Morgan Zulinick)||15:42|
|WIS (+): 12,23,15,19,27,G33 CC (-): 6,28,13,12,27,G39|
|Timeout - Wisconsin||17:19|
|CC||5||-||4||6x6||GW LL||Alexander Krushelnyski (3) (Charlie Taft)||0:25|
|CC (+): 16,17,6,28,25,G39 WIS (-): 9,7,25,19,27,G33|
||End of Game|