MADISON, Wis. — Talk about pulling a 180 over a span of 180 seconds.
In just three minutes during the second period against No. 15 Clarkson Friday night, the Badgers went from tying the game 1-1 to falling behind 3-1.
A three-goal second period and a hat trick from senior captain Nick Dodge lifted Clarkson to a 6-2 victory, its sixth in a row, and relegated UW-the host of the Badger Hockey Showdown-to the consolation game Saturday.
“I think we came out and took it to them pretty good for most of the game,” Dodge said. “We came in pretty confident about our game.”
“It wasn’t just one thing, it was just everything,” UW assistant captain Jake Dowell said. “If we had to, we could use the excuse saying we missed a little time and we were rusty maybe for a period we could say that, but there is no excuse for not playing hard.
“And it was everybody tonight.”
Dodge gave Clarkson an early lead with his first goal of the game midway through the first period and the Golden Knights carried that edge for nearly 20 minutes before Wisconsin tied the game, though only momentarily.
Working on the power play, the Badgers cycled the puck around until Dowell came free in the left circle. Ross Carlson found him and Dowell buried a one-timer over David Leggio’s right shoulder to make it 1-1 and give the Badgers a bit of momentum at 8:31.
But it took just 21 seconds for that momentum to swing back the other way, and it was Dodge again who came through with the answer that the Golden Knights were looking for.
He charged untouched toward the side of the net and collected the puck to the left of Elliott with a wide open left side. Elliott sprawled back, but was only able to get his stick down and Dodge lifted the puck up and over for his eighth goal of the year.
“One of the things that we need to learn is coming back and not letting down,” UW senior Jeff Likens said. “We tie it up, we’ve got to keep going and keep playing.”
Less than three minutes later, Clarkson doubled its lead.
Elliott blocked an initial shot from Tyrell Mason, but left the rebound out right to senior Michael Grenzy. The blue-liner wound up from the right circle and blasted one under the right arm of Elliott.
It was clear that those three minutes were the difference.
“Any time you can come back and get a goal right after they score and take the crowd out of it and then come back and get another one I really thought that was the difference in the game,” Clarkson head coach George Roll said.
“That span there is what, if you viewed the game, would be a turning point,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “I think that was the difference in the game when you look at the big picture.”
The Badgers’ woes continued and nearly seven minutes later, the Golden Knights essentially slammed the door with their third goal of the second period.
Mason and Shea Guthrie teamed up for their second assists in as many goals, this time on a four-on-four situation. This time they found Chris D’Alvise in the right circle and he beat Elliott with a shot into the far corner to make it 4-1 and the rout was on.
And for as much as the goal-scoring was on, so was Leggio, who made a variety of stops to thwart any chance of a comeback.
“I played poorly and their goalie played great,” Elliott said. “I think that was the difference in the game.”
Leggio made 29 saves to gain his 11th victory of the season, while Elliott allowed six goals, tying a career-high in falling to 6-10-1.
Dodge completed his hat trick just three minutes into the final period. Grenzy scored his second of the game seven minutes later and UW freshman Andy Bohmbach scored his first collegiate goal to cap off the scoring.
It was clear that the time off over the holiday break coupled with the absence of three players at the World Junior Championships hurt the Badgers, but Eaves was disappointed nonetheless.
“I factor that in, but the disappointing thing is why couldn’t we come back and play hard?” Eaves questioned.
Roll also acknowledged that Wisconsin was not at full strength, but said he was not going to take anything away from his players, especially Dodge who put the team on his back to ensure that the Golden Knights came out hungry and rust-free.
Clarkson will take on Lake Superior State in the tournament’s championship game at 4:07 p.m. CT Saturday, while Wisconsin will face Providence in the consolation game at 7:07.