MADISON, Wis. — One team’s streak had to end Sunday night. Wisconsin came in with the nation’s-best unbeaten streak of 15 games, while Ferris State was tied for the fourth-longest at six games.
In the end, time was up for the Badgers.
In an emotional, controversial game, the Bulldogs, on the strength of their goaltender, outplayed Wisconsin to a 3-1 victory.
“We got beat by Badger hockey,” Wisconsin associate head coach Troy Ward said. “They played Badger hockey and we didn’t. We have done that to teams all year. We’ve out-hearted them and we’ve out-competed them.”
Mike Brown, Ferris State’s junior All-American, proved his worth, making 38 saves and garnering the Badger Showdown’s Most Outstanding Player award.
“At times we’ve put Mike in a bad position, and now we’ve started to score some more goals and I think it takes some pressure of Mike and certainly tonight he was up to par,” Bulldog coach Bob Daniels said.
The battle strengthened throughout the game. After two Wisconsin goals were disallowed, emotions eventually boiled over in the form of a fight towards the end of the game.
“This game is full of passion and emotion,” Ward said. “We’re going to battle whistle to whistle and sometimes we’re going to battle after the whistle.”
For the second night in a row Brian Elliott and the Badgers surrendered the first goal of the game and for the second night in a row they answered.
It took just more than three minutes for Ferris State to get on the board when Nick Scheible found Simon Mangos to the right of the net. Mangos took the pass and slid the puck across the front of the net, off a defenseman’s skate and in.
With just more than eight minutes to play in the period the Badgers tied it up, taking advantage of their first power play of the night. Tom Sawatske passed the puck through the point where Andy Wozniewski ripped a one-timer over the glove of Brown.
Wisconsin seemingly took the lead with less than four minutes to go, but the referee was right on top of the play and the goal was waved off because the puck had been kicked in.
That sparked emotions even more and four players were dealt roughing minors in the waning seconds of the period.
Ferris State turned things around in the offensive end throughout the second period, outshooting the Badgers and capitalizing on one of 15.
Less than five minutes into the period the Bulldogs recaptured the lead for good. On a faceoff inside the Badger zone, Matt Kinnie won the draw back to Carter Thomson. Thomson one-timed the puck past the glove of Elliott.
The teams shared the same style of play, as was evident from the beginning.
“There are a lot of similarities in the style of play of both teams,” Daniels said. “What we did hit on was how important it is for our program and how great it would be for our program to knock these guys off.”
Wisconsin thought it had tied the game up with six minutes to play, but it was not going to happen.
With the puck loose in the crease, the referee thought that the puck had been covered. The whistle was not heard, but apparently sounded just before the puck crossed the goal and the referee quickly signaled no-goal.
“I didn’t hear a whistle,” Adam Burish said. “I thought it should have been a goal but that kind of stuff happens and you have to go on.”
“I was lucky enough to get a quick whistle, which was nice of [the referees],” Brown said. “The whistle did go before [the puck] crossed the line. It was close , though.”
Wisconsin had multiple other chances throughout the period. Brown slammed the door on Andrew Joudrey’s one-on-one opportunity. Brown’s play was the story of the night and strengthened the Badgers’ frustrations.
“I think the main thing is that we need to get a lot more traffic in front of him,” Wozniewski said. “A few of them were laying right out there for us, but don’t take anything away from him, he played really well tonight.”
With less than two minutes to go Badger blueliner Tom Sawatske lost control of the puck in front of the Badger net and Mark Bomersback snuck the puck through Elliott’s legs for the insurance goal.
After that, the game’s emotions took over. With 30 seconds left on the clock some of each team’s best players went at it. Fists and equipment flew as the referees did their best to break things up.
“Emotion came into the picture and I lost my head a little bit,” Wozniewski said. “We’re not used to being down 3-1.”
When the dust had settled three players from each team received double roughing minors and 10-minute misconduct penalties.
Two of Wisconsin captains, Wozniewski and Rene Bourque, along with co-scoring leader Ryan MacMurchy, and Ferris State’s Matt York, Greg Rallo and Derek Nesbitt could be looking at further penalties later in the week.
“Everyone is playing good. Not everyone was clicking on every given night,” Brown said. “Now we’re starting to come together and we’re starting to look like ourselves last year.”