Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW muzzles Huskies

The Wisconsin men’s hockey team picked up three hard-earned points against No. 8 St. Cloud State over the weekend, defeating the Huskies 3-0 Saturday after skating to a 1-1 tie Friday.

The Badgers (12-6-6, 18-9-7) responded well to the series’ playoff-like atmosphere, keeping their composure, limiting their mistakes and grinding out just enough offense to be successful.

“This is the kind of game we’re going to see when we get ready to play in the playoffs,” said head coach Mike Eaves after Saturday’s victory.


The 3-0 win, in which goaltender Bernd Brückler picked up his first shutout since his UW debut Nov. 17, 2001, was particularly representative of the type of game Wisconsin will have to play in order to advance in the postseason.

Most of the focus after the game was on Brückler, but he was quick to point out that he had plenty of help in pitching the shutout.

“[The defense] did a terrific job again tonight,” he said. “They let me see the puck a lot of the times and the communication is just really good right now.

“It comes down to trust. I trust them to make the plays and they trust me to make those saves when there’s a shot and I see it.”

The Badgers did an outstanding job in their own end, keeping St. Cloud out of the primary scoring areas.

Wisconsin had 13 shots on goal from the slot on Saturday, compared to just three for the Huskies, and UW limited St. Cloud to only a single shot on net from inside the top of the face-off circles during the entire third period.

The defensive pairing of Ryan Suter and Tom Gilbert, which has been strong all year, was especially effective.

Suter and Gilbert were on the ice for all four goals the Badgers scored during the weekend, and were each plus-four.

Wisconsin had a bit of good fortune as well, as the Huskies rang shots off the post at the tail end of the second period and then again partway through the final stanza.

The second post was an especially close call.

St. Cloud won a face-off in the Badgers’ end back to its leading scorer in conference play, Joe Jensen. Jensen drifted towards the middle of the ice, then fired a snapshot that beat Bruckler clean to his glove side.

The shot hit the inside of the pipe, however, and the puck bounced back through Bruckler’s legs before the Wisconsin defense finally cleared it.

“You have to have a little luck in there [to get a shutout],” said the UW netminder, who stopped all 25 shots he faced on Saturday and 47 of 48 for the series. “Pucks were hitting the post, pucks were getting cleared out by our defense.

“We’ve talked about that all year, that we can definitely play zero, and we’re good enough to do that. And tonight it just all came together.”

Wisconsin’s scoring came on goal-mouth scrambles ? exactly the type of plays the Badgers were so successful in preventing.

Ross Carlson and Mark Heatley scored second-chance goals in the first and third periods, respectively, before Rene Bourque put the game on ice with an empty-netter in the final minute of the game.

Carlson’s tally at 17:57 of the opening stanza got the Badgers on the board and put them in front to stay.

The Huskies somehow lost track of the first-year forward in the high slot, and John Eichelberger, playing between Carlson and Robbie Earl because of an ankle injury to Jake Dowell, found him with a pass from behind the net.

Boron got a piece of Carlson’s initial shot, but it trickled between the goalies legs, and, with no St. Cloud defender near him, Carlson was able to pounce on it and put it home.

The goal, Carlson’s second of the series and fifth since he joined the team after the Christmas break, gave him 14 points in 14 games with the Badgers.

“He’s a gamer,” Adam Burish said of Carlson. “He makes big plays at big times.”

“I can’t say enough [about] him, to step in like this and contribute the way he has,” Burish added.

The gritty winger has become the poster child for Wisconsin’s offense of late. He’s not the best skater or the most skilled player on the team, but he crashes the net and gets results.

That strategy led to the Badgers’ only goal Friday.

Carlson’s centering pass for a cutting Earl was broken up, but he jammed the resulting loose puck past Boron to tie the game 1-1 with 7:47 remaining in the third period.

UW outplayed the Huskies on Friday, controlling the flow of the game, but Boron kept St. Cloud in it.

The freshman goaltender filled in admirably for starter Adam Coole, who missed the series to attend his grandmother’s funeral.

Boron stopped 63 of the 66 Wisconsin shots he faced over the weekend, and the Badgers failed to beat him cleanly in either game.

In the end, however, Boron just didn’t get enough support from his defense, which allowed Wisconsin to convert rebounds on three separate occasions, or his offense, which only managed one goal ? Matt Hendricks’ low wrist shot past Bruckler on a 3-on-1 in the third period Friday ? all series.

After Saturday’s win, which put UW two points ahead of St. Cloud (12-8-4 WCHA, 18-10-4 overall) in the WCHA standings, the Badgers essentially will control their own destiny with regard to third place in the conference.

Finishing third is significant for the WCHA tournament, because after five of the conference’s ten teams advance to the Final Five, the fourth- and fifth-highest remaining seeds have a play-in game to see which team advances.

No team has ever gone on to win the tournament after participating in the play-in game. If the Badgers keep up their momentum in their final two series against Alaska-Anchorage and Minnesota-Duluth, they won’t have to worry about that one way or the other.

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