MADISON, Wis. — After the high-scoring offensive show of the last several years all but disappeared in the matchup between Wisconsin and North Dakota, the Kohl Center lit up in the last ten minutes of the game, with both teams combining to score five goals. The Sioux survived being shutout in a series for the first time in the team’s history, but were unable to overcome the Badgers, losing 5-2.
With UND behind 3-2 with less than two minutes to go in the third period, UND freshman goalie Philippe Lamoureux was pulled in favor of an extra man for an already depleted line due to a power play. UW sophomore forward Jake Dowell broke through for the score in the open net, putting the Badgers up by two with 1:06 to play.
After debating whether to keep Lamoureux off the ice, UND chose to add some offensive power which UW took advantage of, adding the fifth goal of the game to close out the series and give the Badgers the sweep.
“We played well with leads late in the game and again we were able to pull one out there,” senior Bernd Bruckler said.
Sioux head coach Dave Hakstol voiced displeasure Friday night by the lack of intensity shown on power plays. While UND had the penalty advantage in the second period, the Wisconsin defense collapsed around Bruckler, and despite a 29-to-12 shot advantage, the Sioux failed to convert.
“I thought our power play was a lot better tonight,” associate head coach Brad Berry said. “We got shots on the net, we’re entering the zone and I thought we had some success that way. It didn’t show on the scoreboard but it was positive in the fact that we sustained in the net.”
The Badgers struck first and headed into the third period with a comfortable 2-0 lead after Bruckler shut down the Sioux offense in the first two periods. Both freshman forward Joe Pavelski and sophomore forward Robbie Earl scored on in the first two stanzas on Lamoureux’s left side.
However, Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves was most pleased with the Badger’s third goal after North Dakota’s sophomore forward Chris Porter brought the game to within one at 13:12. UW responded quickly with quick 1-2-3 passing from junior forward Nick Licari to sophomore forward Jake Dowell to sophomore forward Ross Carlson who flipped the puck in from the side of the net.
“It was a real good sign of growth that Jake Dowell’s line got scored on and we took him off the ice and sat him on the bench and said ‘Catch your breath, you’re going right back out there’ and what they did was they went right back out and had a great response with that third goal;just a gorgeous tic-tac-toe play,” Eaves said, “and that was a big goal for us.”
The intensity on the ice spilled over into the first period from last night with 15 penalties being issued to both teams. After that, both teams seemed to settle down, and while bodies banged against the boards, skirmishes came few and far between. After the Badgers held the advantage Friday night on penalties, North Dakota doubled the amount power-play opportunities Wisconsin had Saturday.
“At times it’s tough because we were back on our heels a bit and we had to go a little bit off of our rotation and had to put the same guys back out there because it was penalty kill after penalty kill,” Bruckler said. “But I think, again, overall we did a great job in clearing out all the rebounds and really staying tight and not letting anything happen there.”
The sweep of the Sioux marks the second year in a row in which the Badgers have done so. Last year’s sweep vaulted Wisconsin, helping turn a mediocre start into a surprisingly solid finish for the team.
“The whole weekend was opportunity and growth for us as a team and we took that opportunity by winning two game at home against a quality team,” Eaves said. “We talked about before the game this was an opportunity for us to grow and forge ourselves into the type of team we want to have at the end of the year when we can do some things.”