MADISON, WI — Denver scored twice with less than five minutes to play Saturday night to record a 3-2 victory and sweep the season series from Wisconsin. Pioneer wing Greg Barber put home the game winner with seven seconds left in the game to bury the Badgers.
At 15:19 of the third, Pioneer sophomore wing Lukas Dora tied it, 2-2, when he pounced on a loose puck in the low slot and put a shot past Wisconsin junior goalie Scott Kabotoff, who made his first appearance in net since spraining a knee ligament Jan. 25 against St. Cloud.
Freshman wing Kevin Ulanski, a Madison native, made a terrific play from behind the net to get the puck to Chris Paradise. Ulanski beat a Badger player to a loose puck and sent it in front as he was falling to the ice. Paradise put a shot on Kabotoff, and the rebound kicked out in front, where Dora capitalized.
“I just tried to put it in front and [Paradise] got it on net,” Ulanski said.
Denver capitalized again with time running down, getting help from a controversial non-call. With less than 20 seconds left to play, a Pioneer player took a puck from between the red and blue lines and shoveled it down ice, toward the corner. The linesmen waived off any icing, much to the dismay of the Badger coaches and players.
“My issue was the icing,” Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer said. “It should have been icing. We could have had a chance to set up on the other end.”
“[Brad] Winchester went to get it,” Kabotoff said. “He is the tallest guy on our team. If he can’t get it, no one can. The puck was past him when he brought his arm back.”
Denver coach George Gwozdecky thought it was a good call.
“From what we saw, the guy went for the puck and at the last minute he pulled his hand out of the way,” Gwozdecky said. “Once he makes an attempt it is the AR’s discretion.”
Then, as the puck cycled along the boards and out of the zone, Wisconsin’s Andy Wheeler chipped the puck down ice from about the same spot relative to the red line as the Pioneer player had been just seconds before. This time, the icing was called.
“That was icing, but it should have been the other way around,” Sauer said.
“I just figured they weren’t calling icing anymore,” Wheeler said. “I was within four feet of the line so I figured I was close enough. I thought [referee] Robin Anderson did a pretty good job all weekend. I wish I could say the same for the linesmen.”
As a result of the icing, with 11 seconds left to play, Denver had a faceoff in the Badgers end. Neither center could gain control of the draw, but Barber skated across the circle, scooped up the loose puck and put a backhand into the net, top shelf to the short side.
“We wanted to do a special play on the faceoff to get it back to the point,” Barber said. “But the puck got caught up and I just put the puck up over (Kabotoff’s) shoulder.”
“Things tend to balance out,” Gwozdecky said. “One game, one shift, you get a break. The next shift, the next game, you don’t get a break. If that happened tonight, we made the play, we made the break, we got a bounce? I don’t know. Obviously we made the right play at the right time and I’m proud of our guys.”
Sauer was displeased long afterward.
“Yeah we lost the face off, yeah we gave up the goal,” Sauer said. “The puck should never have been in that position. We are going to get a call from the commissioner [to tell us it was icing]. But that is not going to make it right.”
Wisconsin rebounded from a poor performance Saturday night and took a 2-1 lead early in the third period. Sophomore defenseman Andy Wozniewski put a wrist shot toward the net that senior wing Matt Doman deflected on goal. Denver sophomore goaltender Adam Berkhoel made the initial save, but the rebound deflected directly to UW senior center Matt Murray, who put the puck in the back of net.
Denver, however, rallied and took control of the game in the final five minutes.
“It was pretty hectic there the last five minutes,” Kabotoff said. “It didn’t look so good.” The Badgers opened the game’s scoring at 6:47 in the first on a two-on-one when Winchester one-timed a pass from Wheeler by Berkhoel. About three minutes later Denver knotted the score at 1-1 when junior defenseman Jason Grahame took a wrist shot from the point that navigated through screens on its way to the net.
Kabotoff played well in his first game back, tallying 30 saves.
“‘Kabi’ did an excellent job coming off the injury,” Sauer said. “I thought we played really well. I thought we deserved to win. I thought we deserved a better fate than that tonight. You work like this and something good has got to happen. It is frustrating.”