MADISON, WI — A tight-checking game between Wisconsin and St. Cloud resulted in a 2-2 tie Friday night.
Coupled with Denver’s win over Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth’s upset of Alaska-Anchorage, the tie put St. Cloud two points behind Denver and allowed the Badgers to gain a point on the Seawolves.
“I was really happy with the game,” Sauer said. “It was a playoff-intensity type of game.”
The Badgers scored two third-period goals to take a 2-1 lead, but St. Cloud’s Matt Hendricks crashed the net and deflected home the game-tying goal at 12:06 in the third.
“I was really happy with our guys, coming back from 2-1 down on the road,” St. Cloud coach Craig Dahl said.
Wisconsin tied the game, but they lost their goaltender. At 14:27 in the first period, UW goaltender Scott Kabotoff came down awkwardly as he was covering a puck while a slew of players crashed to the ice around him.
Kabotoff tried to continue playing, but 12 seconds later he left the ice to seek treatment in the locker room. According to Sauer, Kabotoff strained a ligament in his left knee and will not play Saturday night. It is not known how long the Badgers will be missing the junior goaltender.
Freshman Bernd Bruckler replaced Kabotoff in net just as the Huskies were going on a power play. But just 16 seconds into the man-advantage, junior center Mark Hartigan was called hooking during a shorthanded scoring chance for the Badgers. Bruckler played well throughout the game, finishing with 25 saves.
“I thought the young guy came in and played real well, did a good job for us,” Sauer said.
“I was just really excited to play,” Bruckler said. “I was ready before the game, I was ready five minutes into the game, I was ready 15 minutes into the game.”
Bruckler did not, however, face a shot in the first period.
“I thought they played real well defensively,” Dahl said.
“It was a good thing because I could get warmed up and I had a chance to get my feel for the game back,” Bruckler said.
Twice in the first period that the Badgers aggressive penalty killing led Hartigan to take a penalty while the Huskies were on the power play. Wisconsin’s penalty killers were strong throughout, holding St. Cloud’s power play — ranked No. two in the nation going into the game — to a 0 for 5 performance. Two of those power plays, however, were a combined 36 seconds long.
The penalties on Hartigan were partly the result of pressure the Badgers placed on him at the point on the power play.
“He is a forward playing defense (on the power play),” Sauer said. “Guys did a pretty good job of fronting him because he moves the puck really well. He is certainly the quarterback out there. The guys did an excellent job.”
The Badgers power play was not much better, but Wisconsin did tally its second goal with the man advantage.
At 8:56 in the third period Wisconsin took a 2-1 lead when senior center Matt Doman converted a pretty power-play goal. Sophomore defenseman Andy Wozniewski set up Doman with a pass from the point that was sent just above the ice to keep it clear of Husky defenders. Doman, who was camped out in font of the net, picked the puck out of the air and deflected it past Husky goaltender Dean Weasler.
“Wozniewski made a great play on the goal to get the puck to the net,” Sauer said.
St. Cloud tied the game about three minutes later with Hendricks’ goal, much to the consternation of Bruckler. Hendricks was credited with the goal when freshman wing Mike Doyle put the puck on net and it somehow deflected off Hendricks as he skated into the crease. It was difficult to tell where the puck hit Hendricks and whether he was in the crease before the puck was.
“Hendricks said it hit his stick and went in,” Dahl said.
“I doubt that,” Bruckler said.
In the closing moments of the third period, Hendricks got a step on the Badgers defense as he crossed the blue line, forcing Wisconsin defenseman Dan Boeser to take a hooking penalty at 19:53 to keep Hendricks from getting a good scoring chance as he skated through the slot.
“It was one of those you had to take,” Sauer said.
The penalty was Boeser’s first of the season.
“He prides himself on not taking penalties, but the one he took tonight was a good play,” Sauer said.
St. Cloud, however, was unable to convert on the ensuing power play. Despite up-and-down hockey in the overtime session, the two teams combined for just three shots in the extra frame.
“I thought they played a good disciplined game, like they had to, against us,” Dahl said. “It was a good game; an enjoyable game.”