Photo courtesy of St. Cloud State Center Ice Club.
Huskies Knock Off Badgers Saturday 2-1
In the game of ice hockey, sometimes the better team doesn't win. That was clearly the case on Saturday night at the Kohl Center.
13,815 people packed the Badgers home rink to watch Wisconsin put on their best effort, which simply wasn't enough against Husky goaltender Mike Lee.
Wisconsin played with arguably their highest intensity of the season, and recorded a season high 42 shots on goal in the loss. But St. Cloud State net-minder Mike Lee, who just recently returned from injury provided a riddle that the Badgers couldn't solve.
The previous night saw the Badgers produce arguably their weakest effort of the season, which was something no one associated with the program wanted to repeat.
"You have a lot of time to think about what happened last night, and I know what was on everybody’s mind was the fact that we wanted to come out and play well and get some of our self-esteem back after last night. For a large part of the game, we did it," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves noted after the game.
"I think the result would have been different if we weren’t facing Mr. Lee in the net."
Lee stopped 41 of the 42 shots he faced Saturday night and earned his second win of the weekend.
The junior goaltender from Roseau, Minnesota missed a long stretch of the season due to hip surgery that sidelined him from mid-October right up until last weekend. Since he's returned, Lee has stopped 96 out of the last 100 shots that he's faced.
There was no doubt that Lee was frustrating the offensive play-makers for the Badgers on Saturday night. In fact, for the first time all season, neither leading scorer Mark Zengerle, nor Justin Schultz recorded a point on the weekend.
"We had chances. We just couldn't find a way to put anything in and that's frustrating. (Lee's) a good goalie," Schultz noted in a dejected tone after the game on Saturday.
The lack of offense is puzzling for the Badgers, especially since they recorded a season high total of shots on goal Saturday night.
"We had chances, maybe not as many as we usually do, but there were definitely chances. I think their goalie played pretty well too," sophomore center Mark Zengerle added after Saturday's contest.
Head coach Mike Eaves isn't worried about the lack of production from #6 and #9 this weekend though.
"They had a lot of shots; they were involved in a lot of chances. They just didn’t get on the score sheet. If we were to take a look at this and see they didn’t have shots or look at the film and see they didn’t have scoring chances, then we would wonder what was going on," Eaves noted.
"But they had a lot of shots, they had a lot of chances."
Wisconsin got on the scoreboard first in the second period courtesy of the power play. With the first unit out of gas, the Badger's second power play unit took advantage.
Freshman Joseph LaBate picked up a loose puck and fed sophomore Frankie Simonelli who one timed the puck past Lee to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead 3:54 seconds into the second stanza.
Despite the Badgers controlling long periods of action after that, St. Cloud would be the next team to put points on the board.
Just :57 seconds into the third period, St. Cloud sophomore Nic Dowd tried to score on a wrap around but was denied by Badger goaltender Landon Peterson who was making a rare start.
Peterson denied the initial chance but unfortunately for the Badgers the puck bounced right back on the stick of the Huntsville, Alabama native who poked it by Peterson to tie the game at one apiece.
Both teams would exchange counter shots until late in the third when defenseman turned forward Jarrod Rabey found himself streaking down the left wing with the puck.
In a one-on-one situation, Rabey threw a puck to the net on his backhand that seemingly handcuffed Peterson and found it's way to the back of the Badger cage. The goal gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead with just over five minutes to play.
The Badgers would never respond, and St. Cloud would walk out of the Kohl center for their first sweep over the Badgers since 1999.
What shouldn't be lost in the result, was that the Badgers played one of their best games of the season, and the players understand that.
"We definitely put together a better effort than we did last night and we played a pretty complete game. Our shots were up in the forties. I think that's one of the first times all year we've had that," Frankie Simonelli noted after the game.
"We ran into a hot goalie and that seemed to be the difference maker tonight."
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