Heading into the regular series finale, a lot was on the line for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team.
There was a chance to share a piece of the MacNaughton Cup. Wisconsin (16-12-7, 12-8-7 WCHA) still needs to secure home ice advantage for the WCHA playoffs. On top of all that, they were keeping a keen eye on their NCAA tournament hopes.
As St. Cloud State (21-13-1, 18-8-1 WCHA) senior center Drew LeBlanc netter an empty netter with 0:55 left on the clock to give the Huskies a 4-2 lead those hopes were put on hold, but any chance at the MacNaughton Cup were dashed.
“We’ve been do-or-die for 2-3 months,” junior forward Tyler Barnes said. “We’ve had to have a late push this whole season. Nothings lost at all. It was a tough one tonight.”
Going back to their program roots and playing in the Dane County Coliseum, the Badgers struck first. Scoring their third power play goal in two games, sophomore winger Joseph LaBate sniped a shot from the right circle at the 14:34 mark of the first period for the 1-0 lead.
Special teams were an important factor for UW after it lost top penalty killer, senior Ryan Little to a game misconduct only four minutes into the contest. After killing off the five minute major, the Badgers capitalized on their second power play of the period and their lone power play shot of the period.
Before long, SCSU netted a power play goal of its own on a Jonny Brodzinski shot. Three minutes later, Barnes gave UW the goal-advantage again, netting a feed across the slot from freshman Nic Kerdiles.
Despite the 2-1 lead and 11 shots on goal in the third, the Badgers couldn’t hold off the Huskies for long as they went on to score three goals over the course of the final 20 minutes.
Less than 70 seconds into the final frame and Brodzinski tied things up once again for SCSU. St. Cloud State netted one more before the empty netter as Nick Jensen sent the puck near post and it trickled over the goal line, as Rumpel couldn’t quite cover it up.
“That third goal was a mistake by our young goaltender,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “You make your own luck and they had a little bit of hard work and luck with them tonight.”