MADISON, Wis. — For the second consecutive evening Wisconsin overcame an early deficit and defeated Minnesota State-Mankato. In Game 2 of the weekend series, the Badgers (4-0 WCHA, 6-0 overall) used a tremendous individual effort by forward Brad Winchester and a sparkling connection in overtime between forward Dany Heatley and defenseman Jeff Dessner to win 4-3 on Saturday.
With the Mavericks (0-4 WCHA, 0-4 overall) leading 3-2 late in the third period, Wisconsin center Kent Davyduke won a faceoff to Winchester. The ensuing shot deflected off a Maverick player and Winchester’s follow up attempt then fluttered meekly to the right of the net. Davyduke, though, dug the puck out of the corner and centered it for Winchester, who sent a wrist shot on net.
Maverick goaltender Todd Kelzenberg, who had stymied Wisconsin for much of the evening, was able to squeeze the pads and make the initial save but Winchester fought for the rebound and put the puck in the back of the net.
“Give them credit,” Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer said. “Their goaltender played very well both nights.”
Wisconsin went on a 4-on-3 power play at 3:04 in the overtime period. Just 30 seconds after Badger wing Erik Jensen and Maverick defenseman Ben Christopherson picked up matching minors for an altercation along the boards, Mankato defenseman Andy Hedlund was called for holding after dragging down Heatley on his way to the net.
“[The referee] kind of put his whistle away in the third period and I was surprised that he called that,” Heatley said. “I got a step on the guy and it worked out for us.”
Eleven seconds into the power play, Heatley set up Dessner in the low slot for a game-winning one-timer that beat Kelzenberg through the five-hole.
“Heats moved down and I thought he might try and fake going around the net and give it back to me, [at the] back door,” Dessner said. “I made myself open and he made a great pass and I was able to beat [Kelzenberg].”
Just over 5 1/2 minutes into the first period, Kelzenberg made a brilliant series of saves to keep the game scoreless and set the tone for the first two periods. Wisconsin forwards Matt Hussey and Kent Davyduke had a 2-on-1 break with Hedlund. Hussey skated the puck in and took the initial shot. Kelzenberg made a nice first save and added a spectacular toe save on Davyduke’s rebound opportunity.
Mankato took a 1-0 lead at 7:36 in the first period on the power play. Maverick wing Nate Mauer sent a cross-ice pass from just below the circle to defenseman Joe Bourne, who fired a one-timer back against the grain — picking the corner just over Melanson’s shoulder on the blocker side.
About 3 1/2 minutes later, Bourne and Mauer nearly connected for another goal. This time, Mauer left a drop pass for Bourne just inside the blue line, but the Maverick defenseman’s slap shot caromed off Melanson’s shoulder and into the stands.
The Mavericks took a 2-0 lead at 14:08 in the first period on a 2-on-1 break. Mankato center Peter Holoien’s shot deflected off the stick of UW defenseman Dan Boeser, who was checking Maverick wing Tim Jackman, and into the net.
On a power play in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first period, the Badgers increased the pressure on Kelzenberg.
Early in the 5-on-4, Hussey got the puck in deep and fed a pass through the crease, but Kelzenberg got a stick on it, keeping Davyduke from getting to the puck. About a minute later, defenseman Jeff Dessner’s shot rebounded off Kelzenberg and onto the stick of wing David Hukalo. Kelzenberg recovered, though, and put a pad on Hukalo’s opportunity.
Wisconsin built off that momentum and cut the lead in half at the 3:23 mark in the second period. Wing Erik Jensen corralled a loose puck from behind the net and found wing Andy Wheeler crashing to the net. Wheeler went to the top shelf with a quick wrist shot past Kelzenberg.
“The line that really got us going was [Matt] Murray’s line,” Sauer said. “Murray, Wheeler and Jensen — they are the ones that gave us a spark.”
At 13:33 in the second period, Badger wing Matt Doman took a wrist shot from just above the face-off dot that was saved by Kelzenberg. The puck trickled out of the Kelzenberg’s grasp and slid toward the goal, but he was able to recover just before Davyduke got to the loose puck.
Eleven seconds later, Mankato wing Jesse Rooney skated in on Melanson on a breakaway and fired a wrist shot from the low slot that beat the Badger goaltender top shelf to the glove side to give the Mavericks a 3-1 lead.
With the momentum clearly in Mankato’s favor, Sauer elected to slightly change his lines going into the third period, putting Doman on a line with Heatley and Hukalo and moving Winchester to the Hussey-Davyduke line.
“We didn’t have a lot of flow going and the power play was a little stagnant,” Sauer said. “They were doing a good job on Heatley as far as trying to close him down. We gave ourselves a different look in the third period and it paid off.”
Wisconsin drew within 3-2 at 2:58 in the third when Doman’s wrist shot off a faceoff skirted by Kelzenberg. Heatley picked up an assist on the play.
Badger forward Kevin Granato went down in the second period with what, at the time, appeared to be a gruesome leg injury. After the game, however, Sauer said the preliminary indication was a sprained ankle.