DULUTH, Minn. — The shots on goal were very much in Wisconsins favor as Friday nights Western Collegiate Hockey Association game wore on at the DECC.
But as much as the Badgers dominated in puck possession, they led by just one goal with less than two minutes to play.
Second ranked Wisconsin got two goals in the final 82 seconds to finally pull away from No. 9 Minnesota Duluth for a 5-2 victory before a crowd of 5,170.
The Badgers had a final 52-19 advantage to break UMDs five game league win streak and knock the Bulldogs from first place after a two week stay.
We got up and down the ice and put pressure on [UMD]. We tried to put pressure on them all over the ice, said Wisconsin senior center Aaron Bendickson, bruised in a scooter accident on the Madison campus earlier this week. We played well, but we can always better.
UMD, ranked third in Division I in power play percentage, was 0-for-7 and its top four scorers — Jack Connolly, Justin Fontaine, Mike Connolly and Rob Bordson — had no points. They came into the game among the WCHAs top seven scorers. The Bulldogs have now lost three straight games for the first time this season.
David Grun and Jordan Fulton goals put UMD into a 2-2 after the first period, but Wisconsin outshot the Bulldogs 36-13 the rest of the way and got a go-ahead goal from defenseman Brendan Smith midway through the second period. It was one of two goals following faceoffs.
UMD sophomore Kenny Reiters 47 saves were the most since Josh Johnsons 62 in a three-overtime playoff loss at St. Cloud State. The 19 shots was a season low for UMD.
You can look at the shots, and they had way more, but it was still a 3-2 game until late and thats all that matters, said Fulton, who has two goals in two games. Wisconsins a good team, a deep team, and deserved to win. Were just going to concentrate on coming out with a better effort [Saturday] and getting more shots on the goalie.
Its been a two month surge for Wisconsin, now 7-1-3 the past 11 games.
UMD made the most of its first period chances, scoring on two of six shots on goal for a 2-2 tie. Sophomore winger Grun connected just 86 seconds into the game with an open-net rebound.
The teams then combined for three goals in 42 seconds.
Wisconsin had goals 20 seconds apart as John Mitchell scored on a power play with 9:31 left and defenseman Jake Gardiner of Minnetonka, Minn., a first round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, followed for a 2-1 lead.
Before things settled down from that outburst, Fulton took a Grun feed and tapped the puck past goalie Scott Gudmandson at the left edge 22 seconds later. Gudmandson is 5-0-3 his last eight games.
Yet, UMD was 0-for-5 in power plays through two periods.
After the first period, we got adjusted to the [smaller] size of the rink and the pace of the game, said Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. Our message this week was just get everything you can at the net.
The second period belonged to Wisconsin as the Badgers recorded the only goal for a 3-2 lead.
Geoffrion won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Smith connected from the left faceoff circle. In the waning seconds of the game, Bendickson hit an empty net six seconds after Reiter was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:22 to play and Geoffrion scored with 43 seconds to play, his 18th of the season.
Wisconsin (15-6-4 overall, 11-5-3 in the WCHA) leads the league in scoring at 3.89 a game and UMD (16-10-1, 12-6-1) is second at 3.56.
Wisconsin was great on faceoffs and puck battles, and we didnt generate much. But for all of that, Kenny gave us a chance, said UMD coach Scott Sandelin, who changed up his lines during the game, looking for a spark.
Denver and St. Cloud State, with victories Friday night, moved into a first place tie with 26 points, while Wisconsin and UMD are tied for third with 25.
The Badgers are 3-0-2 their last five games at the DECC.