MADISON, Wis. — On Friday night the Badgers started out as cold as the below-zero temperatures outside. But they woke up for the second period, scoring four goals in the second period en route to a 6-1 win.
Saturday began the same, but this time the Badgers did not respond until the third period. Luckily for them, it was not too late as they used two third-period goals to win 3-2.
“They played a lot better tonight and I think we fought off human nature which is to relax a little bit,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. “But they played [much more solid] in all aspects.”
After a 51-shot performance Friday, the Badgers got caught thinking that they were in for another easy victory. But the Seawolves responded, and after possibly their worst game of the year Friday, scrounged up one of their best performances Saturday.
“It was a big win last night, pretty easy. And it’s tough to play through that,” Jeff Likens said.
“Last night was by far the worst game we played all year,” Anchorage head coach John Hill said. “I just think our guys, individually and as a group, had a commitment to being better positionally.”
Though they never had the lead, the Seawolves quickly responded after Wisconsin’s first two goals, but could not muster up a third after sophomore Andrew Joudrey scored with just under six minutes to play in the game.
“I told the guys that you’re going to have to score three goals to beat Wisconsin and we couldn’t get to three,” Hill said.
Joudrey skated through the slot and nabbed a pass from Ryan MacMurchy. Joudrey then faked once and sneaked the puck under the right leg of freshman goalie Nathan Lawson.
Up until that point, the Seawolves had hung right with the Badgers.
The Badgers got out to a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, a stat that bodes well for them as they are now 13-0-0 when they score the first goal in a game.
Wisconsin took advantage of a power play for its fourth time of the weekend at the 8:27 mark. Joe Pavelski passed the puck through the slot to Jeff Likens, who hammered it home into the far corner past the stick of Lawson.
Anchorage tied it up just 1:24 later when Martin Stuchlik, who scored the Seawolves’ lone goal Friday night, collected a rebound between the circles and flung the puck between the legs of sophomore goalie Brian Elliott.
The teams skated a scoreless, painfully slow second period with the Badgers outshooting the Seawolves 13-6 thanks to a decent power play that came up empty.
Wisconsin captain Adam Burish came out of the locker room after the second intermission and provided an early spark for his teammates. Just 1:10 into the final period he gave the Badgers the 2-1 lead.
Burish laid out in the crease, waving his stick at the puck until he finally whacked it past Lawson. It was Burish’s second goal of the weekend, but the lead would not stand up for long.
Anchorage responded almost six minutes later when freshman center Eric Walsky took advantage of a rebound. Elliott made the initial save in the right side of the net, but Walsky collected the rebound and flung the puck toward the left side, past a diving Elliott.
But Joudrey’s goal at the 14:11 mark was enough for the Badgers and in the end, the Seawolves came up just short.
Lawson had 33 saves in the game to give him 64 in five periods this weekend, but goes home with no points to show for his efforts.
“He did everything he could. It’s unfortunate,” Hill said. “He’s won us hockey games and we’ve tied games because of him and he deserves a little better.”
At the other end of the ice, Elliott got his second win over the Seawolves this season and made 21 saves.
“We were looking for opportunities this year to play Brian, and Brian had played against Anchorage and had good success up there so it seemed so it seemed the logical thing to do,” Eaves said.
The Badgers finish the weekend feeling good, especially knowing that they got two points in a game where they didn’t play their best hockey. They keep momentum with their second straight sweep and remain atop the WCHA for at least one more week.
“We got two points. We found a way to win when we weren’t playing our best,” Eaves said. “Hopefully we learn our lesson and move on.”
“We talk about being a championship caliber team, and that’s what championship caliber teams have to do,” Likens said. “They have to fight through the games when you come out kind of flat against teams at your own home. We did what we needed to do late in the game.”
The win gave the Badgers their 14th conference win, which, with 10 league games yet to be played this season, is the same amount of WCHA wins as they had all of last season.
The WCHA lead will not last long however, as the Badgers have just two points on Colorado College and will now take two weeks off from conference play. Next week they go on the road for a series with Notre Dame and they have the next weekend off.
“We know next weekend is a huge weekend for us with out losses to Ferris State and Michigan State,” Joudrey said. “We know that those non-conference games will play a big role at the end of the year.”
The Seawolves remain tied for seventh with Minnesota State, who they face next weekend in Anchorage.