MADISON, Wis. — Brendan Smith is on a collegiate-best seven-game point streak, but the Wisconsin defenseman is occasionally coming back to the bench talking about what he’s doing wrong.
Even after he puts the puck in the net.
Smith scored twice, joining John Mitchell among multiple-goal scorers, as No. 16 Wisconsin completed a weekend thrashing of Michigan Tech with a 6-0 victory Saturday at the Kohl Center.
In the last seven games, Smith has five goals, 15 points and is plus-5.
When he scored his first goal Saturday however, all he was talking about when he sat down was the two-on-one break he almost coughed up right before.
“It’s a good sign of growth when players coach themselves,” Badgers’ coach Mike Eaves said. “With ‘Smitty,’ he’s maturing to the point where he is his own coach.”
Smith said he often heads off Eaves after he returns to the bench following a mistake by saying what he needs to do better.
“I guess the next level of maturity is to not put myself in those positions,” he said.
The Badgers will take the kind of positions he’s putting them in offensively anytime. Smith’s second two-goal game in nine days was part of a recent offensive surge for Wisconsin (10-5-1, 7-4-1 WCHA), which has six-, seven- and eight-goal performances included in the last four games.
Penalties and the subsequent penalty killing — or, perhaps more appropriately, the lack thereof — continued to be one of the prominent themes for the Huskies (3-11, 2-10).
They were in a scoreless tie late in the first period until freshman Michael Lickteig, a late addition to the lineup, was called for a checking-from-behind major after putting Wisconsin’s Ryan McDonagh into the boards.
In the next four-plus minutes, that scoreless game turned into a 3-0 Wisconsin lead.
Smith sandwiched near carbon-copy goals around a Mitchell score to put the Badgers in control.
Derek Stepan fed Smith for a one-time slap shot on both goals; Mitchell made it 2-0 in front of the net off a pass from Ben Street behind the cage.
When Mitchell scored his second goal of the game 2:50 into the second period on a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box and putting UW on the power play, it made the Badgers four-for-six with the man advantage and temporarily dropped the Huskies to 61.4 percent this season.
“You don’t even need to talk to me — just talk about what we mentioned last night and change the date,” said Huskies’ coach Jamie Russell, whose team foiled Wisconsin’s final two power plays and stands at 62.2 percent on the penalty kill (60 percent in league play).
“A kid’s trying to come in and make an impact, and he made an impact in completely the wrong direction. It’s just a bad decision. I thought it was a great call.”
Tech has allowed two or more power-play goals in 11 of its 14 games this season, including both games against the Badgers. Wisconsin scored three times in five tries in an 8-2 victory Friday.
“Five-on-five, we’re not a bad hockey team,” Russell said.
Mitchell doubled his season goal total with his third collegiate two-goal game.
He played alongside Blake Geoffrion and Craig Smith on the top line, and that arrangement seemed to work.
“I was kind of nervous at first coming in,” Mitchell said. “But I found my groove.”
Scott Gudmandson made 15 saves for his second collegiate shutout, both of which have come against Tech.
He saved his best for last, denying Eli Vlaisavljevich on a two-on-one break in the final minute of the third period.
“I just tried to play it like any other two-on-one,” Gudmandson said, “and keep that shutout mentality in the back of my mind and not think about it.”
The Badgers enjoyed their largest offensive production in a WCHA series since scoring 14 times in a November 2003 series at Michigan Tech.
Stepan added a third assist in the third period when he passed up a decent scoring opportunity in front to find Michael Davies alone at the right post for a tap-in and a 5-0 lead.
Stepan has 11 points in his last four games, nine of them coming on assists.
Andy Bohmbach added a third-period goal for the Badgers.