MADISON, Wis. — The symmetry is just too good to chalk it up as mere coincidence.
On the same night that the Montreal Canadiens commemorated their 100th birthday, a player connected to that famed organization in two big ways recorded a career night for No. 16 Wisconsin.
Blake Geoffrion, whose grandfather Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and great-grandfather Howie Morenz are Canadiens legends, netted his first collegiate hat trick, scoring three power-play goals in the Badgers’ 8-2 thrashing of Michigan Tech at the Kohl Center.
“Paps came down and tapped my skates tonight,” Blake Geoffrion said, referring to his late grandfather.
Or maybe it’s just Geoffrion rounding into form for the Badgers, who have scored 15 goals over the last two Fridays.
The senior captain has goals in five of his last six games for Wisconsin (9-5-1, 6-4-1 WCHA), and he’s done it mostly by being a presence in front of the net.
Geoffrion scored his third of the night just past the game’s midway point, putting the Badgers ahead 5-1 in a game where they were rarely threatened by the Huskies (3-10, 2-9).
And the completion to his first collegiate hat trick was the most visually appealing of the trio, coming on a redirection of a Brendan Smith shot while camped out in front of the net.
“Even though I’m getting credit for the goals, it’s a unit of five out there,” Geoffrion said.
A couple of hats came down right away after the goal; neither made it to the ice. But when Geoffrion was announced as the scorer while play was going on, hats rained down, causing a stoppage.
It was Wisconsin’s first hat trick since Jack Skille scored three against Minnesota State on Jan. 27, 2007. And it was a UW-record-tying performance in power-play goals by an individual — no Badgers player had done that since John Byce in 1988.
It was no surprise that Geoffrion played out of his customary net-front zone on the Badgers’ power play. What was surprising was the amount of time he had to play the puck on his first-period scores.
With the Badgers already ahead 1-0 on a Patrick Johnson goal, Geoffrion got a pass in front from Michael Davies and tried to swing the puck to the right side for an on-rushing Smith. Instead, he hit Alex MacLeod’s left skate and had the puck direct past Tech goaltender Josh Robinson.
He made it 3-1 later in the first when Smith reciprocated on the pass attempt, this time with Geoffrion all alone between the circles for a backhand past Robinson on which the center admitted that he whiffed.
Still, when you’re in position, things happen.
“He’s the hardest working guy on our team,” Badgers freshman forward Derek Lee said. “He’s kind of the epitome of this program right now.”
The Badgers scored three times in five power-play chances, touching an all-too-frequently bothered nerve for the Huskies, who entered the weekend with the nation’s worst penalty kill (64.9 percent) by a wide margin.
It was the 10th time in 13 games this season that Tech has allowed at least two power-play goals.
“It’s not so much the penalty kill; it’s the taking of penalties that kills our momentum,” Huskies coach Jamie Russell said.
Said Tech captain Malcolm Gwilliam: “It’s just a learning thing. We need to shape up in that area.”
The Huskies had chances to get back in the game after falling behind by two in the game’s opening nine minutes, and a bit of temporary momentum came thanks to Robinson.
The sophomore stopped Wisconsin’s Aaron Bendickson on a 3-on-1 rush and shortly thereafter, the Huskies buzzed the Badgers’ net.
They cut the deficit to 2-1 when John Kivisto had his power-play shot bank in off Wisconsin’s Ryan McDonagh in front of the net.
But Geoffrion’s second goal negated that surge, and McDonagh made amends for the deflection into his own net by sending a shot from the left point through traffic and past Robinson.
That ended Robinson’s night; he stopped 10 shots before being lifted in favor of freshman Kevin Genoe.
“He was awful,” Russell said of Robinson. “He did not have a good night.”
Lee scored his first goal in the second period for the Badgers, and soon after he fed Ben Street for a putaway and a 7-1 lead.
Superior, Wis., native Brett Olson scored on a rebound of his own blocked power-play shot in the third period for the Huskies. Andy Bohmbach answered in the final minute for the Badgers, who got points from 13 of the 18 skaters in the lineup.
Smith assisted on two of Geoffrion’s goals and two others, giving him 10 points in his last four games.
The eight goals marked the highest offensive output by the Badgers in a WCHA game since Jan. 14, 2006, when they beat Colorado College 9-1. It matched the most goals they’ve scored in a league game at the Kohl Center, a mark set Jan. 11, 2002, when they beat Minnesota 8-3.
“You look at the score, it’s 8-2 — one of the reasons is the puck was going for us,” Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. “We were able to manufacture some runs.”
Geoffrion was able to manufacture some laughs in his postgame news conference, too, relaying one text message in particular that chided him for taking so long to get his first collegiate hat trick.
“Actually, my dad said it’s about time,” Geoffrion said.