MADISON, Wis. — With its back against the wall so early in the season, Wisconsin looked to its captains to help pull out of its current funk.
They came through Friday night, as Rene Bourque, Andy Wozniewski and Dan Boeser tallied both UW goals — including a combined effort on Wozniewski’s overtime winner — and a total of five points en route to a 2-1 victory over Quinnipiac.
Senior goaltender Justin Eddy followed up a 51-save, one-goal loss to Michigan with another heroic effort for the Bobcats. He allowed just two goals on 48 shots, but even that wasn’t enough to stop the Badgers.
“I thought we controlled most of the game,” Bourque said. “You have to give credit to their goalie. He played phenomenal tonight.”
The polar-opposite styles of play could be seen from the get-go. Quinnipiac sat back and tried to take advantage of its opportunities. The Badgers took it to the Bobcats offensively, but couldn’t put a goal on the board.
“We don’t want to get caught in the transition game,” Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold said. “We just want to play good sound defense because we don’t have the speed that Wisconsin has.”
Wisconsin let its opponents score the first goal of the game for the fifth consecutive game this year. Quinnipiac went into the locker room up 1-0 on a controversial goal.
Sophomore forward Aaron Ludwig broke away with the puck toward the net with Badger freshman forward Andrew Joudrey tailing him. Joudrey tripped Ludwig up, sending him and the puck rolling into junior goalie Bernd Bruckler.
Despite an initially stop, both Bruckler and the puck were sent back into the net, which came loose. The officials went to the replay and eventually it was ruled a goal, putting Quinnipiac up by one.
“I had the puck in my pads and then the guy slid into me. It happened really fast and the net got spun around,” Bruckler said. “I was just waiting for the ref’s decision.”
The penalty-laden second period started off with the Badgers on a power play. Despite a couple of quick chances, the puck was turned away by Eddy, a recurring theme throughout the night.
At 4:13 Bourque took a two-minute charging penalty that proved to be the start of almost eight straight minutes with Quinnipiac on the advantage, including more than two minutes of five on three action.
“That was pretty unusual,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said of the situation. “It was a turning point, but when we killed the penalties it seemed to give us momentum.”
Two more minor penalties and a five-minute major by sophomore forward Adam Burish for checking from behind gave the Bobcats the advantage. But the Badger penalty killers swarmed.
“We’re trying to find a balance between smart and heart,” Eaves said. “I love their passion, but we have to be smarter in the types of penalties that we are taking.”
Just minutes later, the Badgers did in five seconds what the Bobcats couldn’t do in more than seven minutes.
A two-minute tripping penalty at 12:34 by sophomore forward Ty Deinema sent the Badgers on a four-on-three power play. Just seconds later senior defenseman Boeser ripped a shot that was denied by Eddy. Bourque was right there to fire home the rebound, ending the drought for last year’s team scoring leader and tying the game at 1.
“It felt really good to just take the weight off of my shoulders and just get that off my mind,” Bourque said. “I didn’t really have to do much, but thank God it happened tonight.”
After 31 minutes of penalties in the second period, the third was uneventful. Each team had one power-play opportunity but could not capitalize. With less than five minutes to play, sophomore forward Nick Licari skated in one-on-one with Eddy, only to be turned away yet again. This one would be decided in overtime.
Each team took eight penalties in regulation, but one more cost the Bobcats. Sophomore defenseman Dan Rossi was caught on a slash just 38 seconds into overtime, and the Badgers jumped.
One minute later the captains sealed the deal. Boeser fired a shot again and Bourque kept the puck in the crease, just sneaking it under the pads of Eddy. Senior defenseman Wozniewski got just enough stick on the puck to keep it out of Eddy’s reach and slide it into the net.
For Quinnipiac, it was the third one-goal loss in a row against a Big Four conference member, and another goalie’s efforts came up just short. Eddy did all that he could to keep his team in the game, but his offense’s 16 shots just weren’t enough.
“He really was the reason we were in the hockey game. If he wasn’t there we would’ve been blown out,” Pecknold said. “The whole night we were tired. We really didn’t have the legs we had last weekend and I’m not sure why.”
For the Badgers, it was just what the doctor ordered. After continuously outshooting opponents but coming up empty, they won by doing exactly what they had been preaching all week: keep taking shots, and eventually you are bound to get a break.
“It was a must-win game tonight,” Wozniewski said. “Going in one-and-three on home ice in our first home game, we had to get back on track.”
The Badgers picked up a much-needed victory but cannot get caught up in the moment with freshman goalie Brian Elliott getting his first start Saturday. Junior netminder Jamie Holden will be in charge of stopping the onslaught for Quinnipiac.