MADISON, Wis. — Fifth-year tri-captain Ben Street has had a laundry list of highlights throughout his tenure.
He’s the only current member of the Wisconsin men’s hockey team to play in a pair of outdoor games, have four 100-shot seasons and possess a national championship ring. Street is also the only player to have previously experienced Senior Night, an emotional night of question marks and what-ifs.
On what was positively going to be his final Senior Night, Street added another spectacular highlight, and it came with no time to spare.
Street made a couple of outstanding scoring plays, including a highlight-reel goal with one tenth of a second remaining in the second period, that supercharged his bench and were the deciding factor that gave No.3 Wisconsin a series split, besting No.4 St. Cloud State 7-4.
The Badgers (19-8-4, 14-7-3 WCHA) were put in a precarious situation late in the second when Huskies defensemen Oliver Lauridsen knocked in a fluky goal, bouncing the puck off Badgers’ goalie Scott Gudmandson’s right shoulder and into the net at 19:14, cutting the Wisconsin lead to 3-2.
That’s when Street got the big break Wisconsin needed. With the clock ticking down, senior Michael Davies’ perfect centering pass found Street’s stick with 2.2 seconds left. Shaking the defense on the breakaway, Street recognized freshman goalie Mike Lee coming out to attempt a poke check to allow the final seconds to expire.
Street quickly crossed over to avoid Lee’s stick. Despite getting tripped up in the process, Street, realizing time was waning, fired the shot while falling to the ice, narrowly getting the puck over the goal line to increase Wisconsin’s lead to 4-2 heading into the locker room.
“I knew I didn’t have very much time,” Street said. “I thought I would have to shoot it pretty early. I looked up and the goalie was charging at me. I figured I could make a move on him and get an open net.
“The momentum was shifting (their) way to go into the locker and to be able to shift the momentum back for us was pretty big.”
Street decided to have his name announced with his recruiting class during last year’s ceremonies after he suffered a torn ACL in the second week of the season, making it an emotional night sitting watching from the stands. This time around was much easier, which was shown by his goal and his second-period assist, stopping on a dime behind the net, causing enough separation between him and center Drew LeBlanc to give a backhand feed to forward Derek Stepan for a goal at the left post.
“I just decided to make the most of (tonight),” Street said. “There’s no point in getting disappointed that it’s the last go. Just try and seize the moment and make the best of it.”
That sequence of events was the main reason Wisconsin moved into sole possession of third place in the WCHA, five points behind No.2 Denver, and kept St. Cloud State (20-10-4, 15-8-3) in second place heading into its bye week.
“(Street’s) goal ends up being probably the nail in our coffin tonight,” said St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko.
While Street’s goal was the energizer, one of the big turning points for the Badgers was the ability to answer the Huskies three different times, including Street’s play, something Wisconsin could not do in the final two periods Friday.
When Garrett Roe was the benefactor of a deflected pass off a skate to get the Huskies on the board at 1:10 in the first, Wisconsin’s power play took advantage. After Stepan nearly saw his shot skip across the goal line, Davies knocked in the rebound for a five-on-three goal at 6:36.
While Wisconsin was never able to forge ahead after being quick tying the game the night before, another power play gave the Badgers their opening, as Brendan Smith one-timed a pass from the left circle for the go-ahead goal at 18:58.
“We just made some colossal mistakes,” said Motzko, as the Huskies lost for just the third time in 23 games when scoring the first goal. “Way too many penalties. What we’re doing to take those penalties is ridiculous, and that gets them two power play goals in the first.”
After Aaron Martin scored amidst congestion in front of UW goalie Scott Gudmandson (19 saves), the Badgers responded when left winger Jordy Murray redirected a Ben Grotting shot past Lee (43 saves) at 11:35 in the third.
When LeBlanc tipped in a shot at the right post, keeping UW’s lead at one, Wisconsin finally calmed the madness with senior Andy Bohmbach’s blast from the blue line and senior Aaron Bendickson’s wrister from the right circle, taking care of any thoughts of a series sweep for the Huskies.
“Every time they scored, we responded tonight,” UW coach Mike Eaves said. “They get a weird first goal again, but we are able to get on the power play, execute and get some energy. Every time something happen on the downside, we were able to respond and have something positive happen.”
The other turning point came six minutes into the second period when senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion was knocked out of the game at center ice when his battle for the loose puck ended with his helmet landing violently on Marvin’s left shoulder.
Geoffrion, whose assist on the opening goal gave him 100 points for his career, wasn’t able to return, and Eaves said the injury wouldn’t keep him out ‘very long.’ Instead of dragging, the Badgers became energized by the fact, a point that was driven home by the Street-to-Stepan tally less than two minutes later.
“When Blake went down, as a group of 20 guys, we have to step up and fill his shoes,” Stepan said. “It’s a tough role that he takes on, so we had to have guys take a bigger role and we all had to chip in to get the job done tonight.”
A night after scoring one goal on 38 chances (2.6 percent), Wisconsin returned to its opportunistic ways, scoring seven on 50 shots on goal (14 percent). With seven senior forwards skating, it was a fitting end that four of them got goals and the other three got at least one assist.
“We were ourselves tonight,” Eaves said. “That wasn’t us last night. Sometimes, you get complacent with what you do. Perhaps that’s what it was. We found it again tonight and it showed up multiple times.”