first_imgWisconsin junior defenseman Brendan Smith had a game-winning second period goal in Friday\’s 5-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth.[/media-credit]DULUTH, Minn. — No rhythm. No offense.That’s the way the night went for the typically high-powered Wisconsin men’s hockey team Saturday at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.The Badgers’ flow was disrupted right from the start when Minnesota-Duluth scored two goals in just over three minutes of play.UMD forward Justin Fontaine opened the scoring with a shot from over the right circle that got by a clearly surprised Brett Bennett at the 1:15 mark, and Brady Lamb took advantage on the power play under two minutes later as he ripped one by Bennett’s glove.In a matter of minutes, the Badgers were in a deep hole and head coach Mike Eaves was forced to make a change.“We were behind the eight ball right away and we had to make a goaltender change and that is certainly not the way we wanted to start,” Eaves said.Scott Gudmandson replaced Bennett between the pipes as the Badgers looked for a spark, but the struggles continued.Midway through the second period, Mike Connolly stretched the UMD lead to three. After Jack Connolly attempted a wrap-around, the puck came loose across the crease and Mike Connolly was there to bury it.UW stared at a three-goal deficit, and unfortunately for the Badgers, numerous penalties forced UW to frequently play shorthanded.“You can’t take those penalties, especially against this team,” tri-captain Ryan McDonagh said. “It hurts because we were playing all the same guys on the PK and that wore us down.”As play moved into the third period, the Wisconsin penalty killers were getting the majority of the ice time, as Blake Geoffrion and Jordy Murray took two quick penalties.The frustration continued to mount for UW as Rob Bordson added another for goal UMD with 6:15 played in the third period.That would be the fourth and final goal for the Bulldogs as the Badgers skated off the ice with a zero on the scoreboard for the first time all year.While the Badgers struggled to create offense Saturday, Friday night’s game looked like a shootout at the start.As soon as the puck dropped, the Bulldogs stepped on the gas, and with just 1:26 off the clock, UMD took the lead.David Grun buried just his second goal of the year on a 3-on-1 opportunity as he slid the puck past a sprawling Gudmandson.The Bulldogs’ explosive attack continued beyond the opening goal, but it was senior forward John Mitchell who tied things up with a power play goal midway through the first period.Shortly after, the goals kept coming.UW defenseman Jake Gardiner ripped a shot from the blue line past UMD goaltender Kenny Reiter to give the Badgers the lead.But that advantage wouldn’t last long as the Bulldogs created another odd-man rush. Jordan Fulton took a perfect pass from Grun and scored easily to level the score.At the end of the first period, the score was deadlocked at two a piece, and despite preparing all week for Duluth’s smaller rink, Eaves could sense his team was caught off guard.“You try to explain what the game is going to be like, but we still got caught,” Eaves said. “We weren’t ready for the pace that they came with in the smaller space but after the first period I thought we really settled down.”Not only did the Badgers settle down, but also for the next two periods they took the game to UMD.With just over nine minutes gone in the second period, the Badgers created another goal thanks to a faceoff win. This time Brendan Smith took the draw from Geoffrion and the defenseman slapped one by the left pad of Reiter.That would be all the scoring in the second period, but the momentum had swung in UW’s favor.“We settled in,” Smith said. “I mean, they were flying at the start, so we had to calm ourselves down. We started getting into the flow and we got comfortable with the whole atmosphere.”As the third period progressed, the Badgers were relentless on the forecheck, continuously cycling the puck in the corners, as the Bulldogs scrambled to keep the game within reach.With less than two minutes remaining, the Badgers finally doubled their lead when senior Aaron Bendickson fired a shot into an empty UMD net, just seconds after the Bulldogs pulled Reiter for the extra skater.“We couldn’t get that fourth goal and that game was in limbo right until the very end until Bendy put in that empty net goal,” Eaves said.But the Badgers weren’t done yet.In the game’s final minute, Geoffrion found the back of the net to stretch the lead to 5-2.When all was said and done, the shot total was 52-19 in UW’s favor. The Badgers had 20 in the third period alone, and the final score evidenced the superiority they displayed.The conclusion of the series with UMD marks the end of a three-week stretch that saw the Badgers play WCHA teams ranked in the top-10 each weekend.Eaves and the Badgers can look back on this daunting stretch and take away plenty of positives, but after the way the UMD series ended, they are not exactly patting themselves on the back.“If you take a look at the big picture we did a pretty decent job,” Eaves said. “But it tastes bad right now because of the way we ended up losing.”last_img