MANKATO, Minn. — So much for Wisconsin struggling in Mankato.
Obtaining a lead has never been a problem for Mike Eaves and the No. 17 Badgers when playing on the road vs. Minnesota State. Keeping the lead, however, has been another story.
The Badgers quieted all of those questioning their play at the Verizon Wireless Center with a dominating 6-0 win against the Mavericks in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association matchup in front of a crowd of 4,352 Friday. The win ended the Badgers six-game winless streak in Mankato.
We did some good things to create offense and had a little puck luck, Eaves said. Im glad for the kids because they played hard, they played well, and they were rewarded for that.
Entering the game, Eaves was 2-7-3 all-time in Mankato since taking over in 2002. No current Wisconsin player has ever won a game in Mankato until Friday.
Its a hard place to play and theyre a hard working team, said Wisconsin forward Blake Geoffrion. We knew we had to perform and work our butt off in order to win tonight.
Wisconsin had a three goal period in the first and second frames and controlled play from the opening face-off. The Badgers outshot the Mavericks 16-7 in the first period, 18 to 5 in the second period and 40-19 in the game.
The Badgers netted goals on one of their two power-play chances in the first and shutout the Mavericks on both of their man advantages in the period as the home team had problems simply getting their offense started.
The Mavericks long night started at 11:02 of the first period when Derek Stepan found the puck in the crease and backhanded it to the far-side of the net and over Mavericks goaltender Kevin Murdocks blocker.
Forty seconds later, Badger blue liner Brendan Smith made it 2-0 after putting a brilliant move on the Maverick defenseman and beating a stunned Murdock. Geoffrion added to the lead when he capitalized on a rebound at 15:24 just 12 seconds into a power play. Smith put the puck on net from the top of the right circle and after it banked off the helmet of Michael Davies the Badgers captain cleaned it up.
They beat us all over the ice, said Mavericks forward Kael Mouillierat. We let them take it to us and we didnt answer. They won every facet of the game: face-offs, lose-puck battles, they won every little battle tonight and youre not going to beat anyone in this league with an effort like that.
The second period was when things got messy. The middle frame saw 16 penalties ” six of them for unsportsmanlike conduct ” and ended with three more Wisconsin goals. Cody Goloubef, Podge Turnbull and Jordy Murray all found the net in the period.
Goloubef scored on a shot from the blue line at 10:17 on a power play when his shot snuck between Murdock and the near-post. Turnbull scored his first goal of the season at 14:10 when he launched the puck toward the net from the goal line and it banked off Murdock and in. Turnbulls delayed celebration on his fluke goal might have been a sign that things were finally starting to turn around for the Badgers in Mankato.
Last weekend we hit eight posts, Eaves said. Tonight we had pucks hit people and go in.
Eaves referred to a couple of the Badgers goals as puck luck, but Wisconsins overall dominating play didnt have much to do with good fortune.
They were good and we were not, said Mavericks coach Troy Jutting. Thats what it boils down to.
Murdock exited the game after Turnbulls goal and gave way to freshman Phil Cook who saw his first collegiate action. Cook allowed Murrays goal at 18:21 with four skaters aside and did not allow a goal in the third period. Cook finished with 10 saves and Murdock had 24 stops while allowing five goals.
The loneliest man in the building Friday night, Badgers goaltender Brett Bennett, made 19 saves in his first shutout of the season and first with his new squad.
Ryan McDonagh, Craig Smith and Davies all had two assists each.
The Mavericks (2-3-0, 0-3-0 WCHA) and Badgers (1-1-1, 1-1-1 WCHA) finish the weekend series at 7:07 p.m. Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center.