COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In recent years, third ranked Wisconsin has struggled against No. 8 Colorado College, going 1-8-1 against them in the last 10 games. In the season’s first two games in Madison, the Tigers took three of four points from the Badgers.
Wisconsin channeled that frustration into a dominating effort, defeating the Tigers 4-0 in front of a crowd 7,244 at the World Arena. It was the first time since January 14, 2006, that Wisconsin had beat CC in Colorado Springs. The victory also gave Badgers’ coach Mike Eaves his 100th WCHA victory.
“I think there was some talk about that; that’s just human nature,” said Eaves, when asked about whether Wisconsin was out for revenge after the earlier series. “I think it’s human nature to want to respond.”
It didn’t take long for the fireworks to start.
On the first shift, Gudmandson made two great stops on Tigers forward David Civitarese and defenseman Nate Prosser from right in the slot. As so often happens in hockey, the saves paid dividends, as the Badgers broke out 2-on-1 the other way and Derek Stepan, skating up the right side, fed a perfect pass to Ben Street in the left circle, and Street buried the one-timer into the open net at the 43 second mark.
“That play was a microcosm of the whole game,” said Eaves. “We scored after ‘Guddy’ made a save, and it was a transition goal. That was a glimpse of what happened the whole game, to be truthful with you. Anytime you score first in an opposition rink, it gives you the energy you’re trying to get going, because you are looking for a good start to a great start to keep the fans at a minimum in terms of their noise level.”
On the next shift, Gudmandson again made a tough save, this time on William Rapuzzi from the left side of the crease. The pressure the Tigers put on resulted in a penalty on John Ramage for cross-checking. However, on the ensuing penalty, it was the Badgers who scored when they broke in 3-on-3. Stepan tried to pass across the crease, and Tigers defenseman Gabe Guentzel tried to break the pass up, but instead tipped it over Tigers goaltender Joe Howe’s shoulder at 5:37.
“They’re moving well,” said Tigers’ coach Scott Owens of Wisconsin. “They transition so well, that line in particular. They score a shorthander; it was a little bit of a fluke. They were going hard, but it went off our stick. I thought they skated well.”
The second period started more slowly. The Tigers looked to have caught a break when Nate Prosser blocked a shot in the crease and Ramage was subsequently called for a hit to the head penalty, but the power play failed CC again.
“When we were down 2-0, we did have chances; we just didn’t bury them,” said Owens. “Gudmandson played well, and we just didn’t have enough blade around the net. We’re going through a tough time right now and the puck’s not bouncing great for us, but you just got to work through that. A lot of little things aren’t going real well for us.”
“We take pride in that, and coach (Mark) Osiecki who’s in charge of that, he has those guys working pretty good together and they did another fine job tonight, and as always, your goaltender has to be your best penalty killer,” said Eaves.
A broken play at the midway point enabled the Badgers to go up 3-0 when Stepan, standing in the left corner, fed Brendan Smith coming down from the left point. Smith’s quick shot beat Howe at 9:22.
The goal was barely announced before the Badgers struck again. This time, Jordy Murray, standing at the right crease, got a pass from Blake Geoffrion and quickly buried a low shot at 11:24.
The third period was dominated by strong defensive play from the Badgers, who aggressively blocked shots and kept the puck to the outside. Wisconsin got a scare at the midway point of the period when Stepan blocked a shot in the slot and went down, needing to be helped off the ice by his teammates.
Gudmandson made seven saves in the third, finishing with 35 saves on the night. Howe finished with 29 saves.
“We have some ice bags going around, but if you have ice bags going around, it means you paid a price,” said Eaves, who indicated Stepan is OK. “It’s a fun part of the season because the games are so meaningful. I think the players know that. We don’t have to talk too much about emotionally charging them up; they know what’s at stake.”