Great goaltending and solid defense is a recipe for success at any level. Saturday night the Wisconsin Badgers (6-7-5) received both, and were rewarded with a 1-0 WCHA victory over Alaska Anchorage (3-11-4).
The win secured the weekend sweep for UW, which extended their unbeaten streak to eight games. The current streak is Wisconsin's longest since 2005-2006, a year in which they won a national championship. Wisconsin is now undefeated (5-0-3) since freshman forward Nic Kerdiles returned from his ten game NCAA suspension.
Wisconsin started slow on Saturday night, thanks in large part to a stingy defensive system by the Seawolves. The Badgers were able to bust out in the second period, however, on a goal from senior forward Derek Lee.
The North Vancouver, B.C. native corralled a pass from line-mate Joseph LaBate which sprung him on a break-away, and Lee did the rest, ripping a wrist shot past Anchorage goaltender Rob Gunderson to give UW the 1-0 lead. The goal was Lee's third tally of the season.
Gunderson was fantastic the rest of the night, shutting down multiple point blank opportunities from the Badgers. The junior net-minder from UAA finished the night with 21 saves on 22 Badger shots.
Unfortunately for UAA, Lee's goal would be all the Badgers needed on the night, as they played a solid game defensively, and Joel Rumpel was lights out in net. Rumpel wasn't tested often, but turned aside all 12 shots he faced en route to his second shutout of the season.
The sweep was much needed for a Badger squad that has struggled at times this season. Wisconsin seems to be playing with confidence for the first time in a long while.
After the game Lee talked about using this weekend as a spring board into the second half of the season.
"Every game in the WCHA is tough, and it showed this weekend against Alaska (Anchorage)," Lee said. "It's big for our club, we needed two wins coming up here. We're unbeaten in (our last) eight now, so we're rolling a little bit, and we need to keep that going in the second half of the season."
Next weekend the Badgers will be back on the road as they travel to Mankato to take on the Minnesota State Mavericks.
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