MADISON, Wis. — Embarrassed and inspired by their lack of effort Friday night, the Wisconsin Badgers returned with a vengeance Saturday in the Badger Hockey Showdown consolation game against Providence.
The Badgers wasted no time putting the Friars on their heels and energizing the Kohl Center crowd as they scored back-to-back goals in the first 37 seconds of the game and cruised to a 5-0 victory.
“It’s probably the greatest start you could have,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “It’s exactly what we needed. The kids went out and made a statement with that first shift and really set the tone.”
Freshman winger Ben Grotting put UW on top before the 14,784 fans had a chance to get comfortable. Just 23 seconds after the drop of the puck, Jake Dowell found him in the right slot and his shot at Tyler Sims trickled through to make it 1-0.
“One of the things we talked about during pre-game and all day was talking about a great start,” Grotting said. “Going out there and scoring that goal was more than we could ask for.”
Then, with the crowd still finishing its “sieve” chant just 14 seconds later, Wisconsin doubled its lead.
The puck went bouncing out above the crease and became lost in the crowd until it deflected off the back of a Providence player’s leg and past the unsuspecting Sims.
“We were hungry tonight and I don’t think we were going to slow down,” junior Matthew Ford said.
With the crowd in a frenzy, Army was forced to use his only timeout to try and regroup. The Friars did, and the teams each had eight shots on goal heading into the first intermission.
But the damage was already done, and Wisconsin backup goaltender Shane Connelly played confidently with the two-goal head start.
“Everyone was embarrassed last night,” he said. “I wasn’t in there, but I was on the bench and I’m part of this team too and I felt the same way. I just wanted to go out there and give the guys some support.”
He made 26 saves in his second win in three starts this season and his second save in as many starts.
“I couldn’t do anything about it (last night), but I could make sure, tonight, that I could go out and help the team,” Connelly said.
Despite the early excitement, Wisconsin junior Matthew Ford had the play of the night with his fifth goal of the year midway through the second.
He slipped by defenseman Matt Taormina with a slick move in the right circle, then faked a shot before pull it across and beating Sims with a nifty backhand to make it 3-0.
The effort was clearly there for the Badgers and it showed in the statistics as well. Known for their shot-blocking prowess, they blocked just two shots against Clarkson Friday. They blocked three times that many in the first period against Providence and finished with 19 on the game.
“I really think (last night’s) game was an embarrassment to the kids because they know how they can play,” Eaves said. “Yesterday was a lost opportunity and we talked about that. You can’t get that game back.”
Clarkson’s Nick Dodge was named the Badger Hockey Showdown’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring four goals and adding an assist on the weekend.
He joined Lake Superior State forward Josh Sim, Wisconsin forward Jake Dowell, Clarkson defenseman Tyrell Mason, Lake State defenseman Barnabas Birkeland and Clarkson goaltender David Leggio on the All-Tournament Team.