ST. PAUL, Minn. — When Wisconsin and St. Cloud State met in the regular season, the games were relatively high-scoring affairs.
When the two teams met Friday afternoon for the Final Five, they showcased their defensive sides, with the Huskies coming out on top of the Badgers, 2-0, thanks to a stellar performance by goaltender Mike Lee.
However, that’s not how Huskies coach Bob Motzko expected the night to go down.
“We wanted to play on our toes,” he said. “This tells you how little we coaches know and what we think’s going to happen — we wanted a shootout. We made reference to the 8-7 game [against Minnesota] a few years ago because we’re on our best when we play on our toes and it ends up being 17-17 shots after two and a very hard-fought defensive game.”
The teams battled through a scoreless first, with neither team developing many offensive chances.
The Huskies’ gained the first real good offensive chance of the game with 8:21 left in the second period when the Badgers’ Cody Goloubef was called for a five-minute major for contact to the head after an open-ice hit on Nick Oslund.
Though the Huskies didn’t score on the major, they did break through with a power-play goal with 53 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Garrett Roe made a pass from behind the Badgers net in front to Tony Mosey, who fired the puck on net. His rebound came out to the left of the net where Ryan Lasch banged home the rebound past Badgers netminder Scott Gudmandson (20 saves).
Even though St. Cloud seemingly had the momentum going into intermission, the Badgers came out firing in the third period, causing the Huskies to go back on their heels rather than stay on their toes. As a result, on an early Wisconsin power play, a stick-less Roe went to try and knock the puck away from Brendan Smith to clear the zone and ended up sliding head first into the boards instead.
“He didn’t have a stick so he was trying to go for my legs and knock them out and I just stood my ground and I think his neck may have went back and I hope he’s not too bad,” said Smith. “But it was a weird play where I think three people lost their stick or broke their stick so it was a desperation play on his part.”
“I saw him go down head first and it was kind of scare to all of us, but he was moving and I heard the trainer say it was nothing too major so that was a relief,” said Roe’s linemate Tony Mosey.
Though the St. Cloud bench came alive with chatter after the hit, the ice remained tilted in favor of the Badgers, who outshot the Huskies 20-5 in the period. Though the Badgers had several close calls, including a Brendan Smith shot that hit the post late in the period, the Huskies were able to prevail, sealing the victory with a Travis Novak empty-net goal with 56 seconds left.
“We played more in the third than we’re capable of and couldn’t solve the riddle [of Lee],” said Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. “We had some tremendous chances … and we were into it and that was a good place for us to be, but we just couldn’t get the puck in the net.”