MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin assistant coach Bill Howard had been preaching to the Badger forwards that, when taking a shot, to shoot where the goalie is coming from and not where he is going.
Evidently, Andrew Joudrey was listening closely to Howard’s instructions.
It was fitting that on a night where Wisconsin honored their seven seniors — who were instrumental in last season’s success — that senior captain Andrew Joudrey scored the tying power-play goal with under five minutes to go in the third period to stun No.4 St. Cloud State and force a 2-2 tie.
With the Badgers (14-15-3, 11-11-2 WCHA) on the power play and time running out, Joudrey, who had turned into a goal-scoring machine on the power play this weekend, fired a one-timer at the right post past St. Cloud State goalie Bobby Goepfert, who was shifting to the left post, to tie the score.
Entering the series with four goals on the season, Joudrey scored three power-play goals to carry Wisconsin to three points on the weekend.
“When you’re working hard on the power play, somebody is going to be the [beneficiary] and it happened to be me this weekend,” Joudrey said.
The Badgers had opportunities to make the senior weekend even more memorable with a sweep in overtime. Wisconsin fired eight shots in the extra session, but Goepfert was solid in the extra period, stopping six shots including a final-minute shooting flurry from the Badger blueliners.
“We were just out of gas towards the end and Bobby came up big for us,” SCSU head coach Bob Motzko said.
Early in the first period, Wisconsin’s penalty kill was put to the test. After killing off five St. Cloud State power plays the night before, the Badgers were put on the defensive three times in the game’s first 20 minutes — including having to kill off a five-minute boarding penalty given to senior Jake Dowell.
Just like the night before, Wisconsin’s special teams held their ground, allowing St. Cloud State (18-6-6, 12-6-6 WCHA) only four shots on Elliott and no goals for their efforts. Even so, for the first time in their last four games, the Badgers let the opposition get on the board first.
Following a 10-minute delay to repair a broken Plexiglas section, St. Cloud State used the time to get some fire back in its offense.
Skating into the offensive zone, assistant captain Andrew Gordon found a wide-open Andreas Nodl, who sneaked behind two Wisconsin defenseman. Nodl buried the puck past Elliott for his 15th of the season and a 1-0 lead.
A night after being outskated by the Badger defense and failing to match their forecheck, St. Cloud State dictated the pace against the defending national champions.
“We came to play tonight and made them work down there in their defensive zone,” SCSU head coach Bob Motzko said
But for the second consecutive night, St. Cloud State failed to close out the second period. A night after forward Aaron Brocklehurst received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind with 14 seconds left, St. Cloud suffered a worse setback — it gave up the lead.
With Wisconsin frantically trying to make up for a lackluster period and time winding down, sophomore Jack Skille fired a shot on Goepfert. Unable to corral the rebound and with the puck loose in front of the net, sophomore Ben Street jumped on the puck and fired it into the net with four seconds remaining on the clock to tie the score at the second intermission.
“At times, the game wasn’t played very technical or tactical,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “The game was played with a lot of emotion out there and that’s something we can hang our hats on.”
Unlike the previous night, the Huskies were able to recover. After failing to convert on their previous nine power-play attempts in the series, St. Cloud State finally broke through against Wisconsin’s stingy penalty kill. With the Huskies on a 4-on-3 advantage, senior defenseman Justin Fletcher one-timed a wrister from the point that beat Elliott high on the glove side. SCSU was then 1-for-10 on the power play and, more importantly, had the lead on the Badgers.
But in the end, it was St. Cloud’s inability to stop Joudrey on the power play that ultimately ruined any plausible chance the Huskies had of catching Minnesota for the MacNaughton Cup, as the Gophers are now seven points ahead of the Huskies with four games to go.
For Eaves, the late goal was a symbol of endurance and will for a Badger team starting to make a late postseason push.
“To go out and execute on the power play late in the game, to get it done was a great thing to hang our hat on tonight,” Eaves said. “The kids never gave up and laid their hearts down out there.”
The pre-series billing of two of the best goaltenders in the league lived up to the hype, as both Elliott and Goepfert were solid in net — despite both being knocked woozy Saturday night — throughout the series. Goepfert finished with 59 saves in the two-game set while Elliott wasn’t far behind, stopping 46 shots.
“Both All-American goalies are battling it out, making saves and made it a good hockey game,” Motzko said. “You don’t get many licks on Elliott. We had our fair share, but it’s just hard to get [pucks] by him.”
“There were a couple moments when I could sit back on the bench and listen to the crowd,” Eaves added. “I think people walked out of here very entertained.”
Wisconsin heads to the road next week in an important battle for home ice against Michigan Tech in Houghton. Meanwhile, St. Cloud State enters into its most important series of the season, playing conference-leading Minnesota in a home-and-home contest.