GRAND FORKS, N.D. — For the second straight night, Wisconsin scored three goals in a period, completing a sweep of North Dakota at Ralph Engelstad Arena and moving into a sixth-place WCHA tie with the Fighting Sioux.
In the third period, the Sioux held a 2-1 lead and were on the power play when they were called for too many men on the ice at 13:20. That gave the Badgers a 39-second power play, and they made the most of it.
Senior forward Jake Dowell scored his second goal of the game and third of the series to knot the score 2-2 at 15:05. Denied on his first shot by Sioux goalie Philippe Lamoureux, he battled for the puck and put in his own rebound.
“His goal was a gritty goal,” coach Mike Eaves said of Dowell’s effort. “I would say that close to 70 percent of his goals have been like that.”
Then it was senior forward Ross Carlson’s turn to play the hero. After Carlson came into the UND zone 2-on-2 with senior Andrew Joudrey, Lamoureux stopped Joudrey’s shot from the left circle, only to have the rebound go directly to Carlson in the right circle. He shot it into the open net at 16:29 from a sharp angle to give the Badgers a 3-2 lead.
Carlson said what appeared to be a hard shot by Joudrey and a rebound was actually a pass on a designed play.
“Joudrey made a nice pass,” he said. “We worked on that in practice — going far side and making it bounce out. It’s a great shot and a great pass.”
It was no accident that two Badger seniors, who started the game on different lines, combined for the winning goal. Eaves put Joudrey and Carlson on the same line in the third period, and it paid dividends.
“We went with some older guys down the backstretch,” he said of his decision to keep his younger players off the ice late in the game. “We want to bring those guys along, let them watch from the bench a little bit and put it in the hands of our veterans.”
Sioux coach Dave Hakstol summed the game up this way: “We made two mistakes. That’s the difference in the game.”
He cited the too-many-men penalty and a defensive lapse on Carlson’s game-winner as the critical errors.
“The way we played the first 15 minutes of the third period is the way you have to play to close out games,” he said. “It’s plays and calls and penalties like that seem to, more often than not, come back to haunt you, and this one did tonight.”
UND pulled Lamoureux with 2:02 left, but Carlson put the nail in the coffin with an empty-net goal with 1:21 remaining. His spinning shot just across the red line extinguished all Sioux hope of coming out of the series with a point.
“It’s a big thing for us to come out with a sweep here in North Dakota,” Carlson said. “It’s huge. They’re a tough team to play against here.”
The Sioux couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game. Wisconsin defenseman Jeff Likens hauled down UND center Jonathan Toews seconds into the game, resulting in a power-play goal by forward Brad Miller at 1:34. Badgers goalie Brian Elliott got a piece of Miller’s hard wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle, but the puck bounced in to give UND a quick 1-0 lead.
Dowell evened it at 1 with a power-play goal at the 13:02 of the opening period. He skated the puck from behind UND’s net out to near the top of the right circle and blasted a slapper past Lamoureux, who appeared screened on the play.
UND overcame its second-period jinx, despite being outshot 12-6. Coming into the game, the Sioux had been outscored 26-14, and on Friday, the Badgers rode a three-goal second period to a 4-3 win. But this time, it was the Sioux who came out on the plus side.
As time expired on a Badger power play, Toews got the puck deep in the Sioux zone and fired it toward the penalty box just as defenseman Robbie Bina was coming out. Bina went in all alone on Elliott and fired a wrist shot that went in high glove side to give UND a 2-1 lead at the 16:06 mark.
“I think they were just throwing it down trying to ice it and I just happened to be there,” Bina said. “It was kind of bouncing a little bit, but I was able to control it, get in and put it up top.”
The crowd of 11,582 erupted for sustained applause when the Grand Forks native scored. He missed all of all season while recuperating from a broken neck suffered on a check from behind during the 2005 WCHA Final Five.
Bina’s goal also represented a key point in the game for Wisconsin.
“We talked about that,” Eaves said. “It’s the job of that next line to go out there and make a statement. We played down in their zone right away to take a little of that momentum away.”
For the Sioux, who fell to 5-6-1 in the WCHA and 7-8-1 overall, the weekend was another exercise in frustration. Hakstol gave his team credit for playing better than the previous night.
“We played well. We played hard. We played together as a team and competed extremely hard,” he said. “We made two mistakes and that didn’t allow us to close out the win.”
Just as the Badgers went through a six-game winless stretch in which scoring came difficult, so, too, are the Sioux.
“There’s no question that we’re not getting a lot of bounces over the last few weeks, but you just have to keep working through that,” Hakstol said. “It comes back to staying strong as a team and staying very strong in the locker room — together — and you work through it.”
Wisconsin, now riding a three-game win steak, is 5-6-1 in league play and 7-9-2 overall. The Badgers are off for a week before the Badger Hockey Showdown where they take on Clarkson. UND is at home for a two-game series against Michigan Tech Dec. 15-16.