MADISON, Wis. — Making a drastic mistake that cost Wisconsin its one-goal lead late in the second period, sophomore center Nic Kerdiles knew he needed to make amends to keep the team’s finally-found momentum intact.
With his high level of talent and athleticism, he didn’t have to wait long to beat the buzzer.
Kerdiles’ goal with 1.1 seconds left in the second period proved to be the difference-maker as No.15 Wisconsin buoyed that intermission momentum to earn a 4-1 victory over Colorado College Friday night at
the Kohl Center.
Kerdiles’ night could best be described as complicated.
Wisconsin (7-5-1) was leading 1-0 when Kerdiles – at the tail end of his extended shift – attempted a lazy cross-ice pass without checking his peripherals. That allowed winger Alexander Krushelnyski to pick off the pass and go uncontested for the shorthanded goal at 15:45.
“I was tired … and I made a bonehead play there,” said Kerdiles. “When you make a bonehead play like that, you really owe one to the team.”
On his next shift, Kerdiles drew an elbow to his helmet from defenseman Peter Stoykewych and gave an opportunity for atonement.
With time dwindling in the second period, Kerdiles somehow worked his own rebound out of a scrum at the right post and into the back of the net to give UW its one-goal lead back.
“That was an emotional energizer for us,” said Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. “You can imagine what it does on the other end of it. It’s one of those watershed moments of the game.”
Kerdiles drew three penalties on the night, two off of Stoykewych that led to Wisconsin’s first two goals.
“He’s kind of deceiving,” Colorado College coach Scott Owens said of Kerdiles. “He’s got good sense and he’s still a young guy. I was very impressed with him tonight.”
The sophomore also broke the blade off his stick preparing for a faceoff and later got his facemask stuck in the mask of center Jeff Collett off a draw, causing a stoppage in play, some awkward moments and some chuckles from the 7,847 in attendance.
That doesn’t account for a two-hour afternoon class, defending a 12-page paper on a short story he wrote and an important economics exam for his finance major.
“[Kerdiles] was involved in a lot of things,” said Eaves. “He was in the eye of the storm the whole game. He’ll sleep really honestly tonight.”
Joseph LaBate scored a power-play goal in the first period, Michael Mersch registered his 100th point with his ninth goal of the season and senior captain Frankie Simonelli added an empty-net tally with
nine seconds left to give UW a three-game winning streak, the longest of the season.
“I couldn’t do it without my teammates, a lot of assists from them, which is really nice,” said Mersch, the 72nd player in school history to reach the century mark. “It’s a great individual accomplishment, but we’re looking to do a little bit more this season.”
The tide of the game could have easily swung in the third period with Wisconsin leading 3-1.
After some fisticuffs and two additional Wisconsin penalties gave Colorado College (2-11-3) four-and-a-half straight minutes of power play midway through the third period, including two 5-on-3s for 56 seconds and 52 seconds, the Tigers couldn’t find the net and attempted only five shots.
“We’re not finishing,” said Owens. “We’re not scoring much. When there are timely situations and opportunities, we’re not able to break through … We’re kind of good, but not really … you’ve got to hit the back of the net. I thought there were opportunities tonight and we just didn’t do it.”
Colorado College has been outscored 38-16 over the second, third and overtime periods this season, and has scored one goal or less for the ninth time this season.
Starting his fourth straight game, Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel made 25 saves, a handful of them critical, to improve his record to 5-1-0 on the season.