MADISON, Wisc. — Sometimes, the best offense is a good penalty kill.
With the Badgers trailing Alaska-Anchorage 3-2 in the third period, Wisconsin senior forward Matt Murray netted a shorthanded goal to propel the Badgers to a 5-4 victory.
Wisconsin added two power-play goals in the third period and withstood a late rally by the Seawolves in the game’s final minutes to extend the Badgers’ unbeaten streak to a season-high four games.
“The shorthanded goal gave them momentum and then we take a couple of lazy penalties and they get the two power-play goals,” Anchorage coach John Hill said. “They won the special teams battle and they deserved to win the game.”
Wisconsin now stands just one point behind Minnesota and Colorado College for third place in the WCHA. “It is a big win with what is going on around the league,” Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer said. “We separated ourselves from this team and now the important thing is to come back and get the sweep.”
Sophomore defenseman Dan Boeser set up the shorthanded goal and tallied four points to lead Wisconsin. “I thought our most valuable player tonight was Danny Boeser,” Sauer said.
Boeser started the play by blocking a shot in the Badgers’ zone, then poking the puck over a Seawolf defenseman’s stick. Boeser rushed the puck up ice on a two-on-one with Murray and skated to the front of the crease, where he put a backhand shot on net. Anchorage
sophomore goaltender Kevin Reiter made the initial save, but Murray pounced on the rebound and fired it home to tie the game at 3-3 at the 7:49 mark in the third.
“The puck was bouncing my way tonight I guess,” Boeser said. “Lucky enough, Murray was right there to clean up the garbage.”
After scoring two goals in the first 20 games of the season, Murray has seven in the last seven games and is in the midst of a four-game goal-scoring streak, during which he has tallied five.
Boeser was instrumental in keeping the Badgers in the game in the first two periods, when the Seawolves’ speed dictated the flow of the game and had the Badgers out of sorts. “We started chasing,” Sauer said. “It was like mice going after cheese.
“We did some awfully dumb things early in the game. Four-on-four at the end of the second period; it looked like a Chinese fire drill.”
Boeser’s point shot just seconds after an Anchorage penalty expired in the first period rebounded to freshman wing Alex Leavitt, who fired it into a virtually open net to tie the game at 1-1.
With Wisconsin down 2-1 in the second, Boeser made a great play after sophomore center John Eichelberger won a faceoff in the Seawolves’ zone and got the Badgers’ defenseman the puck. Boeser skated the puck from the point down the sideboards to the edge of the circle, cut back toward the faceoff dot and took a wrist shot in traffic that beat Reiter to the far
“[Boeser] really showed patience,” Sauer said. “He picked the corner and almost single-handedly got us back in the game.”
Anchorage junior defenseman Matt Shasby was called for a five-minute major for checking from behind and given a game misconduct midway through the second period when he
shoved UW’s Murray into the boards. The Badgers did not take advantage of the extended power play, which was cut short by a Wisconsin penalty, but Anchorage had to play the final 30 minutes without Shasby.
“Matt is unquestionably our best defenseman. He logs a lot of minutes and he is so good when the puck is on his stick that he helps you both offensively and defensively,” Hill said.
According to Sauer, the Badgers saw the light in the third period, which may have had a little bit to do with an intermission pep talk.
“We had a little heart-to-heart at the end of the second period,” Sauer said. “I told them what was going on in Duluth and that this was a chance to really make a move here. Third period we came out and played the way we can play.”
Still, Anchorage took a 3-2 lead when senior wing Mike Scott found the net at just 1:34 in the third. “You go up 3-2 in the third period and you are hoping that you are going to have the discipline — mentally and physically — to get the job done,” Hill said.
Wisconsin, however, dominated the game after Murray’s shorthanded goal and peppered Reiter with 22 shots in the game’s final period.
Senior wing Matt Hussey tallied his team-high 14th goal of the season at 11:32 in third to give the Badgers a 4-3 lead. Leavitt, who celebrated his 18th birthday Thursday, skated through the circle from his point position on the power play, corralled a loose puck and put a backhand toward a sprawling Reiter, but the shot sailed over the net. Junior wing Brad Winchester corralled the puck behind the net and found Hussey along the side of the crease for a one-timer.
Hussey set up the Badgers’ second power play goal with about four minutes left to play by rushing the puck through the neutral zone, through the offensive zone and around the net before feeding junior defenseman Mark Jackson at the point. Jackson quickly moved the
puck to Boeser at the opposite point, who one-timed it on net. Senior center Kent Davyduke controlled the rebound and capitalized for what became the game-winner.
Anchorage came alive in the game’s final minutes and drew within a goal with 49 seconds left when senior defenseman Cory Hessler camped out in the crease and deflected a pass into the net.
Though Leavitt was used on the point on one of Wisconsin’s power play units Friday, the center did not take faceoffs due to a bruised hand suffered when he was hit by a puck in Tuesday night’s scrimmage against the French Olympic team.
“It is fine,” Leavitt said. “It has recovered pretty good. It bothered me all week, but it is pretty good now.”