MADISON, Wis. — No. 13 Michigan Tech struggled early with a hockey hangover from the tough 6-0
loss last Saturday to then No. 1 ranked North Dakota, but managed to work their way through it with a pair of goals from captain Jimmy Kerr to beat the tenth ranked Wisconsin Badgers, 4-2, on Friday night at the Kohl Center.
We weathered the storm early and I thought our effort was fantastic, said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell.
On their third power play of the game, the Huskies (5-2-0 overall, 4-1-0 WCHA) struck gold for the second time as junior defenseman Geoff Kindrade notched his first goal of the season after carrying the puck nearly the length of the rink before cutting to the net and beating Badger goaltender Shane Connelly.
Huskies netminder Michael-Lee Teslak picked up the lone assist on the goal that came at 2:39 of the second period.
It was nice to get our power play going tonight, said Russell.
The Badgers (3-2-0 overall, 0-1-0 WCHA) had a golden opportunity to score in the first minute of play as freshman phenom Kyle Turris stole the puck in the offensive zone and cut to the net, but Teslak stood his ground and Turris banged it off the pipe.
Sophomore center Aaron Bendickson helped the Badgers get the early lead when he made a perfect pass from the corner to Teslaks left out to a ready Kyle Klubertanz in the slot. The Badgers assistant captain blasted a one-timed slap shot past Teslak for his third of the season at the 4:54 mark of the opening period.
About midway through the first period, the Huskies finally shook the hangover from the North Dakota game. And it couldnt have happened at a better time as to that point they had suffered shot differentials of 9-0 and 12-4 up until that point.
With Badgers sophomore defenseman Jamie McBain off for tripping, Kerr got the Huskies on the board with a long wrist shot from the top of the circle to Connellys right. The goal, Kerrs fourth of the season — and second on the man advantage — came at 13:39. Kinrade and sophomore Drew Dobson assisted on the goal.
(Tyler) Shelast did a great job getting a screen on the goalie, said Kerr. I just got lucky and the puck found its way through to the goalie.
Huskies freshman winger Jordan Baker continued the strong play of the Huskies in the latter half of the first period with a couple of solid shots on goal that Connelly had to be in position to stop.
Kerr struck for the second time in the game on a similar shot with 41 seconds remaining in the first. He took a pass from Dobson, skated in near the top of the circle again, and found the back of the net with another wrist shot that bounced off a Badger defender and in.
We knew their goaltender was one of their strengths, said Badgers head coach Mike Eaves. We did get off to a good start, but their pucks found the back of the net.
By the time the first period ended, the Huskies had cut the Badger shot advantage to just five, 15-10.
The Huskies nearly extended their lead to three when junior winger Alex Lord, center Ryan Angelow, and sophomore winger Ryan Bunger skated in three on one, but Bungers shot hit the goal post to Connellys right.
After back-to-back penalties, Eaves burned his timeout just 4:34 into the middle frame. The move seemed to settle the Badgers down while also cooling off the Huskies, whose momentum was threatening to run the Badgers right out of the Kohl Center.
They want to do so well, but we called the timeout to remind them that we are all in this together, and they dont have to try to do it themselves, said Eaves. It also gave a chance to collectively catch our breaths.
The Badgers managed to cut the Huskies lead to one in the second when captain Davis Drewiske carried the puck over the blue line into the offensive zone and beat Teslak through the legs with a hard wrister. The goal, which came at 11:34, was assisted by assistant captain Ben Street and Cody Goloubef, a freshman defenseman.
The Badgers had a great chance to even the game with about six and a half minutes remaining in the period when sophomore Michael Davies took a pass in close to Teslak, but the Tech netminder slid across and made a tremendous save with his right leg pad for one of his 30 stops on the night.
By the time the second period ended, the Huskies, who got stronger as the game wore on, had cut the Badger lead in shots to just two, 25-23, and were showing more and more confidence with every shift.
A little under nine minutes into the third period, Connelly had to come up big again for the Badgers after Huskies assistant captain Tyler Shelast fed Baker for a one-timer right in front. Connelly finished the game with 23 stops.
The Badgers had another great chance to even the game just under eleven minutes in when freshman defenseman Brendan Smith took a pass, carried the puck to the front of the net, and fired, but Teslak again was there to make the save.
The last couple of games its really gone down to wire for me, said Teslak. Ive learned how to handle games in this league.
Eaves elected to pull Connelly with 1:38 remaining, and the faceoff deep in Husky territory. The move backfired as Shelast stole the puck at center ice, beat two Badger defenders, and cut in to deposit the puck in the yawning goal.
The unassisted goal, Shelasts fourth of the season, and first even strength goal, came at 18:46.
The Huskies finished 2-4 on the man advantage while holding the Badgers to 0-3.