MADISON, Wis. — After being shut out Friday night, Wisconsin returned the favor Saturday for a 5-0 win to gain a series split with Michigan Tech. The game, however, was marred by fight-riddled third period that resulted in two game disqualifications in addition to 92 minutes of penalties.
Scott Kabotoff had 33 saves for the Badgers, who improved to 6-4-0 overall and 4-2-0 in the WCHA.
“Kaby has played extremely well,” Sauer said. “I can’t say enough. He has even gone further than I expected. Again it wasn’t an easy night for him.”
For the first five minutes Saturday, the Badgers looked out of sync, as they had the night before in a 1-0 loss.
But starting at the six-minute mark in the first period Wisconsin rattled off three goals in three minutes and three seconds.
Defenseman Andy Wozniewski started the scoring and just 2:20 later, wing David Hukalo tipped a Brian Fahey shot past Huskies goaltender Brian Rogers to make it 2-0.
Wing Matt Hussey concluded the barrage with a goal at 9:03 in the first to give Wisconsin a 3-0 lead.
“I thought the first two periods we were just excellent,” Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer said. “I thought we did a lot of things better than we did last night. I was pleased with the jump. We came back and needed to win a hockey game and we came back and got the job done.”
The Badgers increased their lead to 4-0 early in the third period on a wrist shot from just above the circle by Andy Wheeler that handcuffed Rogers.
A few minutes later, though, the hockey game turned ugly. A tit-for-tat began, including a crosscheck by Husky Jon Pittis on Wisconsin’s Andy Wheeler. About six minutes into the third, UW’s Matt Doman laid out Pittis with a hit in the slot in the Badger zone.
“I don’t think there was any one specific thing tonight that did it, maybe the hit right there in front of our bench,” Sauer said. “It was a clean hit, I mean, I saw it. The kid had his head down and he had the puck and he passed the puck and got hit. It was clean — it was not a penalty, I didn’t think, anyway. Again, I’ll watch it [the replay], but it was just the play of the game going through there, but if you wanted to pick a spot [that could be it].”
Michigan Tech (3-6-1 overall, 1-6-1 WCHA) defenseman Greg Amadio took offense and skated across the ice after Doman, giving the Badger forward a little shove. That precipitated a pushing contest that resulted in roughing penalties to Huskies Amadio and Colin Murphy and the Badgers’ Alex Leavitt.
Twenty-eight seconds into the Badger power play a fight broke after Rogers froze the puck. What began as a few isolated shoving matches grew into four separate one-on-one scuffles, including two full-fledged fights.
As the referees were breaking up two tussles in front of the net, Wisconsin captain Andy Wheeler came to blows with Husky Chris Durno in the corner, and Michigan Tech’s Paul Cabana and another Badger captain, Kent Davyduke, got into it behind the net. When the referees sorted everything out, Davyduke and Cabana had been disqualified, and Wheeler and Durno were given misconduct penalties. Cabana, though, was called for a minor and a double minor as well, while Wheeler was called for two minors, giving the Badgers a brief five-on-three power play.
The Badgers capitalized on the two-man advantage as Dan Boeser scored on a shot from the point to make it 5-0.
For the second consecutive weekend, however, a Badger player was disqualified. Last week, Erik Jensen had to sit out Saturday’s game against Minnesota-Duluth. Now, Davyduke will be forced to sit next Friday against Michigan State.
“I’ll have to watch the tape,” Sauer said. “I’m not very pleased with what happened there.”
“In defense of Davyduke, I don’t think he had any choice tonight, it was just the nature of how it happened. It was down by the net, there was a stoppage of play and guy keeps coming at him and the penalty was called the way it should have been called — they got the instigator penalty.
“That is part of the game. I just don’t condone it, though.”
The tense play did not end there. Nine more penalties were called before the game concluded, culminating in a double minor and misconduct to Amadio credited at 20:00 in the third for extracurricular activities that occurred after the final buzzer sounded.
Sauer was also disappointed with the way the Badgers played defensively in the third period, when they yielded 17 shots.
“I wasn’t pleased with the third period,” Sauer said. “I thought even though we continued to score a couple of goals there we gave up too many shots, kind of let Kaby fall back and make the saves there. Bottom line — we did what we had to do to get the win.”