MADISON, Wis. — Saturday’s game was a mirror image of Friday’s contest, only it was Colorado College coming back from a 2-0 deficit to pull off a tie against the hottest team in America. Wisconsin was successful in extending its nation-leading unbeaten streak to eight games, but disappointed in how it happened.
The Badgers dictated play for two periods, jumping out to a two-goal lead, but let it slip away as arguably the best third-period team in hockey came on strong again.
Wisconsin emphasized coming out and getting on top early, and the Badgers did just that with two goals from an unlikely line.
With the fourth line on the ice, hustle paid off as Pete Talafous played the puck in the zone and left it off for freshman Mark Heatley. Heatley skated in from the side of the net, faked right, and wrapped the puck around Tiger goalie Matt Zaba, putting the Badgers up 1-0.
Heatley, the brother of former Badger and NHL star Dany Heatley, got his eighth start of the year as a walk-on for the Wisconsin squad. He has two goals and three points this season.
The second period was much the same as the first. The Badgers continued to dictate play and their fourth line struck again.
Andy Wozniewski made a great effort to keep the puck in the zone off a faceoff and then flung it at the goal. Talafous deflected the puck and Heatley kept it alive in the crease. Zaba could not find the puck and John Funk was right there to slap the puck into the net, doubling the Badger lead to 2-0.
“Yesterday [the fourth line] played pretty well, and I think we just took some of that momentum into tonight,” Heatley said.
But in the same fashion that Wisconsin had rallied one night before, Colorado College, led by Joey Crabb, came out ready in the third.
“We didn’t care about Wisconsin. We didn’t care about systems. We just wanted to compete,” Colorado College coach Scott Owens said. “We are still a young team that is learning how to do that and this is a perfect situation.”
Less than five minutes into the period, the Tigers swung the momentum. Andrew Canzanello ripped a shot from the blue line and Joey Crabb was in front of the net to redirect the puck through the legs of Wisconsin goalie Bernd Bruckler.
With the score 2-1, and Colorado College playing with intensity unseen before the third period, the Badgers did all they could to keep up, but fell short.
With just under two minutes to play in regulation Crabb struck again. Bruckler had a hard time seeing the puck after a pass from Marty Sertich took an awkward hop, but Crabb found it first and shot it over the glove of Bruckler to tie the game.
“We weren’t as focused in the third period as in the first two tonight,” Bruckler said. “We have to find a way to get the job done and get two points in games like this.”
The rest of regulation and overtime saw equal opportunities for both teams, but neither team could score and they had to settle for the 2-2 tie.
“All weekend we talked about a complete effort,” Funk said. “We just have to go back to the drawing board and come out these next few games and put 60 minutes together.”
Colorado College came into the weekend against the hottest team in the land shorthanded, due to injuries and illness. Add to that the news that assistant coach Norm Bazin had been critically injured in a car accident on Thursday night, but the Tigers still skated home with two points.
“Anytime you split on the road you are generally pretty happy, especially against the hottest team in the country, and especially in the situation we are in, so we are very happy,” Owens said.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, could not help but feel disappointed to come away with just two points.
“I’m disappointed, and I’m sure a lot of the guys are too. We had a chance to take three points and we only came away with two points,” Bruckler said.
“We had another opportunity to make a statement to ourselves, to the league, to hockey people around the country that we are for real,” Eaves said. “They were disappointed. It hurt them to let the point go.”
Each team walks away with two more points in the WCHA standings. Bruckler had 44 saves and Zaba finished with 48.
Next weekend each team plays nonconference games. The Badgers take their streak on the road for games against Michigan and Michigan State, while Colorado College takes on Air Force and Findlay.