It was not the ideal time to play the worst two and a half periods of hockey on their season, but that is what the top-seeded Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team decided to do on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Bemidji State played with more desire and more jump in their skates and upset the Badgers 6-3 in Bridgeport, Conn.
Just six and half minutes into the first period, the Beavers got on the board first and let the Badgers know that this wasn’t going to be some game they could sleepwalk through. At the end of the first period, BSU had outshot the Badgers 16-7 and had added a second goal after one of many terrible turnovers that the UW defense would give up.
The top-ranked UW power play got the Badgers on the board early in the second period thanks to Linus Weissbach’s goal with a two-man advantage.
Wisconsin had come out and played much better in the second period and with the Weissbach goal it was logical to think that the Badgers had woken up and were going to put their food on BSU’s throat. That is, uh, not what happened. 12 minutes later the Beavers added another goal to make it 3-1 and then with the Badgers on another power play near the end of the second period, goalie Robbie Beydoun passed it to Owen Sillinger (who, you may realize, is not on Wisconsin’s team) who stuffed it into the empty net shorthanded to give the Beavers a 4-1 lead heading into the third period. UW switched goalies to Cameron Rowe at intermission but it didn’t make that much of a difference.
Bemidji State also scored first in the third period, to make the lead four, and even Cole Caufield finding the net twice (his 29th and 30th goals of the season) and the Badgers pulling their goalie couldn’t make a difference in the outcome of the game. The Beavers added an empty net goal to give us the final score of 6-3.
The final score kind of flatters Wisconsin as Bemidji State was the better team from the drop of the puck and very much deserved this upset win. Wisconsin struggled with turnovers which directly led to BSU goals and the Beavers defense kept the vaunted UW offense under wraps for most of the game.
This team will look completely different next season as both Caufield and Dylan Holloway will certainly be moving on to the NHL and seniors like Robbie Beydoun, Linus Weissbach, Ty Pelton-Byce and multiple others graduating/moving on to pro careers as well. This was certainly a tough way to end the season for a talented team and it will be interesting to see where Tony Granato’s squad goes next season.