One of the only things more unlikely than a three-goal first period and a seven-goal game by Wisconsin is Jefferson Dahl leading the offensive charge.
Both happened Thursday afternoon.
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“I can’t put my finger on it, but the puck always seems to go in when we play these guys,” Dahl said.
Dahl went into Thursday’s game with five goals on the season and 11 for his career. He had gone 13 games without a goal going back to Jan. 26 before he put the Badgers on the scoreboard in Wisconsin’s series-clinching win against Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday.
A point of emphasis for Wisconsin was to stop the Mavericks’ fourth-rated power play (23.5 percent going into Thursday). Not only did they stop the Mavericks on six two-minute power plays, they scored two short-handed goals against a Mavericks team that allowed three all season. Dahl had both.
Leading 1-0 after Tyler Barnes’ first of two goals, Dahl beat Minnesota State goaltender Stephon Williams on a rush from a low angle, glove side, 6:11 into the first period.
On the penalty kill midway through the second period with a 3-0 lead, Dahl finished off a give-and-go on a two-on-one break, roofing the puck over Williams.
“I knew I had a step on [the Mavericks defender] so I was just kind of trying to throw it on net and fortunately it went in,” Dahl said.
Dahl has had plenty of recent success against MSU, scoring five career goals against the Mavericks, with four goals in the last three meetings.
He scored once in each of Wisconsin’s overtime wins at Minnesota State in January.
“It seems like [Dahl] works hard every time we play Wisconsin,” Minnesota State’s Matt Leitner said. “The guy played an excellent game today and you have to tip your hat.”
The seven goals Wisconsin scored was a season high, and after going the first 35 games of the season without a three-goal third period, the Badgers have done it in two straight games.
Dahl thought he recorded a hat trick in the second period when Sean Little threw a pass to the front of the net and it deflected in off his skates. The goal was waved off because Dahl was in the crease and blocking the goaltender’s vision at the same time.
“I was kind of surprised it went in and then I heard them arguing that I was in the crease,” Dahl said.