MADISON, Wisc. — It was a battle of two teams in transition, one with a new head coach, and one losing two All-Americans. In the end, the team with the new coach took the early lead, but the other team took it going away.
The Rensselaer Engineers fell behind 1-0 early to the Wisconsin Badgers, but scored five unanswered goals and controlled most of the game and got 30 saves from Kevin Kurt to advance to the IceBreaker championship game with a 5-1 victory.
The victory spoiled the debut of new Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves.
The Badgers got on the board early in the first when transfer Pete Talafous fed defenseman Tom Gilbert who put one off the glove of Kurk to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead.
The Engineers would come back as Scott Basiuk threaded the needle to Mikael Hammarstrom, who easily tapped the puck past Badger goal Bernd Bruckler.
Later in the first period the Engineers took the lead at 2-1 when Keith MCWilliams’ shot was saved by Bruckler, but the rebound went straight to Ben Barr who deposited it past Bruckler.
In the second period the Badgers controlled play early, but did not score, and in a stretch of 3 minutes, the Engineers took a 4-1 lead.
Nick Economakos went to Bruckler’s short side and somehow snuck the puck underneath his arm to make it 3-1 and then Nolan Graham fed Vic Periera in front who one-timed it to make it 4-1.
Scott Basiuk added a power play goal in the third period to seal the victory for the Engineers.
“We did the little things and kept it simple,” said Engineer head coach Dan Fridgen. “We had a lot of people stepping up and contributing, which is something we have to do.”
“They capitalized on every opportunity,” said Badger head coach Mike Eaves. “Every chance they had, they took advantage.”
The Engineers move on to take on Boston University in the championship game of the IceBreaker, only the second championship to pit eastern teams, the first being Colgate and New Hampshire a few years ago.
Wisconsin will take on Northern Michigan, the hard luck shootout loser, in the consolation game.