Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Ice Badgers Sioux-eep North Dakota

The Wisconsin men’s hockey team emerged from a three-game losing streak to hand top-ranked North Dakota its first back-to-back losses of the season before a pair of raucous Kohl Center crowds.

Robbie Earl became the first Badger since Dany Heatley to record a hat trick in the team’s 4-3 overtime win Friday, and Bernd Bruckler pitched in with 41 saves in a 5-2 triumph a night later as UW finished off the impressive sweep.

The Fighting Sioux had dropped only three decisions all season before arriving in Madison, and did not seem likely to add to that total after Wisconsin spotted them a 3-0 lead in the first period Friday night.


The Badgers did not fold up the tent, however.

After a passionate intermission speech from head coach Mike Eaves, UW outplayed the Sioux and controlled the action from the second period on.

“To me, [the turning point] was the response that our team had at the beginning of the second period,” Eaves said. “You could definitely tell that was a different team than [in] the first.”

Earl’s first goal, a backhand from the slot at 12:01 of the second stanza, put the Badgers on the board, and the momentum really started to swing in Wisconsin’s favor when Andrew Joudrey’s shorthanded tally pulled the team to within a goal with 6:25 to play in the third.

The near-sellout crowd, which had not had much to cheer about up until that point, suddenly came alive, and the Badgers stepped on the gas.

“We were like an avalanche,” Bruckler said. “We just kept coming at them.”

Still, it took a pair of clutch goals from Earl to finish off the comeback.

The freshman winger knotted the game 3-3 when he tapped home the rebound of a Jake Dowell shot with just over a minute remaining. The secondary assist on the tying goal went to Ross Carlson, who kept the play alive by sliding to keep a loose puck in the zone and then passed to Dowell from his behind to set up the goal.

Dowell and Earl hooked up again for the winning score.

Earl admitted after the game that he was “dead tired” and looking to get off the ice at the end of his shift, but when he saw Dowell breaking towards the North Dakota zone, he decided to join the rush, creating a 2-on-2.

Dowell and Earl crisscrossed just inside the blue line, and Dowell dropped the puck for Earl. Earl then stepped around North Dakota defenseman Matt Smaby and chipped the puck over goaltender Jake Brandt to cap off the thrilling 4-3 win.

“Jake [Dowell] did a great job,” Earl said. “He pushed the D back and made a good drop pass. All I had to do was beat one guy, and [I] just got [the puck] up there.”

Earl’s hat trick, the first for the Badgers in the history of the Kohl Center and the first since Dany Heatley’s at Alaska-Anchorage Feb. 19, 2000, came after a heart-to-heart with Eaves during the week about the forward’s dedication.

Eaves’ message, essentially, was that Earl’s work ethic needs to match his skill.

“I said, ‘You know, you need to learn to get to that level. And if you do, because of the god-given gifts you have, you can do something special.'”

Earl admitted as much.

“When I show up, I can be a positive force for this team,” he said. “When I don’t, I’m just another player in the WCHA.”

On Saturday, the story was goaltending.

North Dakota dominated the action, but Bruckler repeatedly turned away their scoring chances while their own netminders gave up a string of soft goals.

The middle stanza was the key to the game.

Though the Sioux pulled ahead 1-0 on the first of freshman Brady Murray’s two goals at 3:48, Bruckler made several clutch saves on odd-man rushes, including one on Zach Parise, to keep UW in the game.

It was a slightly different story at the other end of the ice, where freshman Jordan Parise, Zach’s brother, let in three shots he should have stopped during the second period.

The first was Ryan MacMurchy’s wrist shot from the top of the left-wing circle at 10:07. The goal, MacMurchy’s 13th of the season and first in 12 games, ticked off the bottom of Parise’s glove and bounced into the net.

MacMurchy said that the slump had been wearing on him.

“I tried to have my pre-game nap, and I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I just wanted one real bad.”

Dowell put the Badgers in front for good with just under five minutes remaining in the period, when he took advantage of defenseman Nick Fuher’s misplay of a dump-in at the blue line, cut to the middle, and let go a wrister that snuck between Parise’s arm and his body.

Finally, Earl, whom the sellout crowd cheered every time he touched the puck in the first period, capped off the Badgers’ second period scoring with a shot from the high slot that Parise again got his glove on but failed to stop at 18:26.

UW got two goals, one into an empty net, from Rene Bourque to seal things in the third period, as the student section broke into a chorus of “Overrated,” referring to the No. 1 UND squad.

However, though the final score was 5-2 in the Badgers’ favor, it easily could have been 4-0 or 5-0 in North Dakota had the goalies been switched.

North Dakota out-shot UW 43-22, but struggled to solve Bruckler, who could be a contender for his fourth WCHA Defensive Player of the Week award this season.

“When [your] goaltender’s in that zone, it’s awful tough to get the puck by him,” Eaves said.

“He’s been a big part of a formula all year in terms of us getting W’s, and once again, he was part of that formula tonight.”

The two victories helped Wisconsin to remain in a third-place tie in the WCHA with St. Cloud State, and pulled the team to within two points of the conference’s co-leaders, North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth.

“We’re forging ourselves into a pretty good team,” Eaves said. “And we will continue to forge ourselves right up until the end of the year, into the playoffs.”

With this weekend’s sweep, the Badgers certainly got themselves going in the right direction again.

“We have a broader vision of how we need to play in order to be a national contender,” Eaves said. “Are we there yet? No. Are we getting there? We’re on the right road.”

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