After seeing a 3-0 lead be cut down to just a one-goal favor, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team battled a late-game surge by Bemidji State Saturday, but managed to escape with a victory.
“I think the mood after the game was we got the two points, we landed a wounded plane if you will,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “The fuel engine was on fire we got it on the tarmac which is a good thing. We’ve had a couple of storms here.”
Both the Badgers (12-9-7, 9-6-7 WCHA) and Beavers (5-17-6, 4-13-5 WCHA) came out with an intensity and energy unseen in Friday night’s game. UW got out to an early lead, scoring two goals in the first 13 minutes of play. Junior forward Keegan Meuer found himself with a wide-open net 6:24 into the game after Beaver goaltender Mathieu Dugas went for a puck behind the net and found himself out of position and the puck heading for the back of the net.
Sophomore forward Brendan Woods followed up with a goal of his own in the 12th minute of the period off a pass by junior forward Michael Mersch across the slot that Dugas had little time to adjust for. Freshman defenseman Kevin Schulze brought the Wisconsin lead to three goals, finishing a rebounded shot halfway through the second period.
Bemidji State brought on backup goaltender Andrew Walsh and worked to turn the game around.
The Beavers found themselves on a power play late in the second period after a tripping call on senior forward Derek Lee — who returned to the ice Saturday after missing the previous three games with a concussion. Senior forward Aaron McLeod quickly punished UW, getting the last touch on a lose puck just 15 seconds into the power play.
After starting the period on the penalty kill due to a holding call late in the second, the Beavers successfully fended off a Wisconsin power play and brought their deficit to one just 3:14 into the final period.
Bemidji State maintained momentum throughout the rest of play, outshooting UW 7-3 in the third period. Nonetheless, Wisconsin prevailed despite missing sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe due to an ankle injury and junior forward Tyler Barnes, who was sidelined for the game due to internal reasons.
The win for Wisconsin comes at a critical time as they now sit tied for fifth place in the WCHA with 25 points, but just six points back from first place.
“These are the dog days of the second half of the WCHA and this weekend was one of those,” Eaves said. “We got three out of four points and now we need to get back to some basics in our own area.”