John Ramage scored in overtime for the second consecutive game. - Photo Credit: Larry Radloff/INCHWriters.com
Wisconsin extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games with a second consecutive overtime victory Saturday night.
The Wisconsin men's hockey team went nearly six years between overtime victories on the road in WCHA action. They ended that streak Friday night vs Minnesota State in a thrilling 4-3 victory. Just 24 hours later, the Badgers had overtime wins on consecutive nights.
For the second game in a row, Wisconsin captain John Ramage was the hero, as his goal with 6.2 seconds left in overtime secured another sweep for the streaking Badgers.
With just two goals on the season coming into the weekend, Ramage likely wouldn't be the first name that would come to mind to play the role of offensive catalyst.
"I think I'd probably be the last guy on the ice that you'd think would be getting two overtime winners," Ramage said after the game. "Right now I just feel very fortunate."
The game was ugly for much of the night, as Wisconsin took eight penalties and neither team could find much flow. After the game Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves talked about finding a way to win in tough games.
"These are games that you have to solve that riddle," Eaves said. "There are no textbook answers. You've got to have a good mindset, and stay with it, control the things that you can."
After a scoreless first period, Badgers' center Jefferson Dahl got the scoring started three minutes into the second on a nice show of strength.
The junior from Eau Claire, Wis. picked up a pass from Sean Little and carried the puck into the zone with speed. With daylight in sight, Dahl was able to hold off a Minnesota State defender, kick the puck up to his stick, and beat the sprawling Maverick goaltender to give Wisconsin their first lead of the game.
The goal was Dahl's second of the weekend. The line he centers between the Little brothers (Sean and Ryan), was arguably Wisconsin's most consistent group the entire series.
Minnesota State would get the goal back in the third period on a pin-ball shot from the point. Mavericks' defenseman Evan Mosey threw a puck towards the net that deflected off MSU forward Matt Leitner, past UW goaltender Joel Rumpel, and into the Badger net.
Rumpel was screened on the play, and never saw the puck until it was already in the back of the net. Despite the goal, Rumpel played outstanding all night and was one of the Badgers' best players. Rumpel finished the game with 35 saves on 36 shots.
"(Joel) Rumpel kept us in the game the whole time," Ramage said. "That's the bottom line. Without him we wouldn't have won the game."
The two teams ended regulation tied once again for the second straight night, and once again it was time for Wisconsin's captain to step up and turn into Bobby Orr.
With the clock running down in the extra session, Ramage picked the puck up and made one nice move around a Minnesota State defender to give himself space. Then, in similar fashion to his goal on Friday night, Ramage cut to his right before firing a shot at the net. The puck handcuffed the Minnesota State goaltender and found it's way to the back of the net.
After the game, fellow defenseman Jake McCabe noted that it was a big-time goal from a guy that they count on.
"Ramage came to the rescue again," McCabe said. "Leaders step up, and he did that for us."
It was far from Wisconsin's best played game this season, but at this point in the season you need to find ways to win when you don't have your best stuff. The Badgers faught hard all weekend, and came away with four huge WCHA points.
"We were relentless, absolutely relentless," McCabe said.
The win was Wisconsin's sixth in a row, and they've extended their unbeaten streak to ten games (7-0-3). The Badgers will be back in action next weekend as they host Miami (OH), a top ranked team out of the CCHA.