Tyler Barnes was the talk of the town once again Saturday, as his highlight-reel, behind-the-back goal in overtime propelled Wisconsin to a 4-3 win and series sweep over Colorado College.
Wisconsin (8-5-1, 2-2-0-0 Big Ten) didn't get the start it was looking for in the first period, giving up two goals to Colorado College (2-12-3) early. Head coach Mike Eaves was very pleased with the way his club responded, however.
"We put the onus on the players, Eaves said. "It was not the start that we talked about and we found ourselves behind. This is an upperclassmen team and we said you gentlemen need to take the reins and you know what to do and they went out and did that."
Barnes' goal in overtime will be talked about for weeks to come, but he didn't even realize he scored it at first.
"I just threw it towards the net," Barnes said after the game. "I knew Brad (Navin) was crashing, but I didn't see what happened after that. I turned around and it was in the net."
The Tigers got the scoring going early in the first when Jeff Collett collected his third goal of the season. After sending a centering pass towards the Badger net, the puck bounced off a UW defenseman and past Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel just 56 seconds into the contest.
CC extended its lead when freshman Sam Rothstein found a rebound on the back door and was able to beat Rumpel 12:43 into the opening stanza.
The Badgers bounced back with their best period of the season in the second, reeling off three consecutive goals.
Some unlikely characters jumpstarted the Wisconsin offense, as goals from bottom-six forwards Brad Navin and Jefferson Dahl evened the score at two apiece.
"He was just stronger than his opponent and got the shot off," Eaves said of Navin. "The thing about that is he's getting to places, winning battles and using that size and speed to his advantage. I think that light is getting brighter for him."
Navin ultimately added two assists in the game, his first multi-point game since his freshman season.
"It felt great," Navin said. "Especially going into Christmas break here, to go out like that. Hopefully I can transfer it over to the second half of the season."
Wisconsin took its first lead of the night 7:39 into the second on Michael Mersch's team-leading 10th goal of the season. All Mersch had to do was tap the puck in the net after sophomore Nic Kerdiles threaded a pass through the CC defense to Mersch, who was streaking to the back door.
CC came out strong in the third period and finally broke through to tie the score at 3-3 with just 1:03 to play in the period on a goal from Archie Skalbeck.
While the Tigers carried momentum into overtime, it was the senior Barnes stepping up once again in a big spot with his second highlight-reel goal in the past two weeks.
The Eagan, Minn., native found the puck on his stick to the right of the CC goal, and in one motion went behind his back and flung a no-look shot towards the Tigers' goal that somehow fooled goaltender Josh Thorimbert and made its way into the Colorado College net.
With the win, the Badgers have now won four straight games and earned their first series sweep over Colorado College since 1993.
"Everybody did their part, Navin said. "We got the pucks to the net and good things happened."
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