Wisconsin takes series from No. 1 Denver

first_imgSophomore forward Jordy Murray scores the Badgers\’ third goal of the night on a wrap around in the second period. Murray earned \”game puck\” honors for his play against Denver in the 4-3 UW victory.[/media-credit]It wasn’t easy, but Wisconsin finally got a huge monkey off its back.In a fierce battle with a playoff-like atmosphere Saturday night, the No. 3 Badgers outlasted the top-ranked Denver Pioneers 4-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 15,237 at the Kohl Center.With the win, Wisconsin snapped a six-game winless streak against Denver. The first five of those contests were Denver victories last season before the Badgers and Pioneers skated to a 3-3 tie in Friday night’s series opener.Considering the Badgers’ play in the second game of their last series at Colorado College, the result Saturday night meant that much more to the team.“Taking three out of four points from Denver is always a good weekend,” senior tri-captain Ben Street said. “We had a bit of a sour taste in our mouths coming back from Colorado Springs. … I thought we responded real well tonight. To win the game like that is huge for our team — it shows maturity and it’s a big step from last Saturday.”After falling behind 2-0 in Friday night’s game, Wisconsin came out aggressive early and netted a first period goal to take a 1-0 lead 15:47 into the game.Street’s goal, his 10th of the season, came as a result of a heads up play by the 5-foot-11 native of British Columbia. After fellow senior Michael Davies lost control of the puck after making a nice move to get in front of the net, Street grabbed the puck and fired a slap shot past DU goaltender Marc Cheverie.UW carried that lead into the break, but it would not take long for the Pioneers to answer back.Just 2:32 into the second period, freshman defenseman Matt Donovan fired a shot past Wisconsin goaltender Brett Bennett from the top of the right circle for the power play goal.The Badgers remained resilient, however, and answered with another goal just seconds later. Freshman Craig Smith, a Madison native, found the back of the net with a one-timer on a feed from senior Blake Geoffrion.That goal, the Badgers’ second of the game, put UW back up one and swung the momentum back in the home team’s favor. Large momentum swings were the theme of the night.“In a game like this, there were these flow and ebbs where one team’s trying to get up and get the advantage and then the other team fights back,” head coach Mike Eaves said.“In the second period there we did some things that were uncharacteristic — turning the puck over in the middle of ice — and we had to battle back, stop doing those things and get the momentum on our side.”UW held that momentum four the majority of the second period, even adding a third goal at the 6:26 mark when sophomore forward Jordy Murray poked one just past Cheverie on the wrap around.Murray’s goal was assisted by Smith and Geoffrion, and made it appear as though the Badgers could put the game away with another one in the second period.Unfortunately for the cardinal and red, though, Denver was not about to give up just yet.At the 13:43 mark in the period, senior captain Rhett Rakhshani got an easy opportunity and converted it, cutting the lead to 3-2.Rakhshani was pleased with his team’s ability to answer the Badgers’ 3-1 lead, but acknowledged the Pioneers’ slow start was to blame for the loss.“We responded and that’s a positive, but I think in the future we’re going to have to learn how to come out harder,” he said. “This is going to bite us in the butt later in the season if we’re not prepared for that.”Still, Wisconsin had the lead going into the third and the chance to go up 4-2 if it scored first in the final period. Yet, the Pioneers stole the momentum once again, as Rakhshani’s linemate and fellow senior Tyler Ruegsegger put one through the five-hole on Bennett to tie things up at three goals apiece.For the second consecutive night, two of the nation’s top three teams were tied 3-3 in the third period and appeared as though they could be headed for overtime once again.Thanks to an excellent faceoff play by the Badgers, though, the game would end in regulation.After sophomore Derek Stepan won a faceoff in the Denver zone, freshman defenseman Justin Schultz fired a shot from out wide that Davies tipped in for the game winner.Davies’ goal, his 11th of the season, sealed the series victory for the third-ranked Badgers. It was the first for UW against DU at the Kohl Center, which opened in 1998, and the first at home since October 1994.“The best thing about this weekend is the fact when you play at that level — that’s championship level in terms of college hockey,” Eaves said. “What better way to prepare yourself for the end of the year than by playing in these types of games?”last_img

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