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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Ice Badgers split with WCHA leader

Nick_Licari_bf_416A solid defensive effort combined with a struggling power play and an inconsistent offense yielded a series split for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team (21-9-2, 16-7-1 WCHA) in its regular season home finale against Colorado College (25-6-3, 18-6-2 WCHA). The No. 6 Badgers drew first blood against the No. 3 Tigers with a 5-1 Friday night win before falling 2-1 Saturday in the second game of the weekend.

Saturday night’s contest started off poorly for the Badgers. A hooking call on UW defenseman Jeff Likens just 33 seconds into the contest gave Colorado College a power play. Wisconsin dodged a bullet, though, as a wrist shot from CC defenseman Brady Greco hit the post and ricocheted away from the goal.

The Badgers responded and took a 1-0 lead with 10:42 remaining in the opening period after a turnover by CC defenseman Lee Sweatt deep in the Tigers’ zone. UW forward Jake Dowell scooped up the puck near the left circle, deked and beat CC goaltender Curtis McElhinney with a backhand shot.


“I thought the first 10 minutes of the game we had great tempo and did a lot of good things,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said.

However, McElhinney stood tall in net for the remainder of the game, making 23 saves and limiting Wisconsin to the single goal. The senior netminder had missed time during the week after tweaking his back in practice, forcing him to miss his usual start in Friday night’s game.

“[McElhinney] looked big in net, and he came out and challenged,” CC head coach Scott Owens said. “And he gave us a couple real good saves, and the whole team then kind of fed off that a little bit, knew they had some confidence.”

Colorado College tied the contest with 1:11 left in the first period, with forward Trevor Frischmon doing the honors. Sophomore Brandon Cox fed Frischmon the puck near the inner edge of the right circle, and the junior sent a backhand top shelf, beating UW goaltender Bernd Bruckler stick side.

Bruckler, in his own right, made 29 saves, including 12 first-period stops, in his final game at the Kohl Center.

“I will walk out of here with my head up,” Bruckler said. “But I’m really disappointed right now. There’s a lot going through my head, obviously it being my last game and a lot of emotion. But, I wish it would have been a different outcome.”

The Tigers controlled the second period, out-shooting the Badgers 11-6. After seeing his first shot foiled by the post, Greco notched a power-play goal and what would prove to be the game-winning score 4:05 into the second period. The Middleton, Wis. native took a pass from captain Mark Stuart and sent a one-timer slap shot from the point past Bruckler.

Wisconsin had its chances in the game’s final two periods, but failed to capitalize. Dowell found himself alone in front of McElhinney with about 8:30 remaining in the second, but had his shot stopped by the Tiger netminder.

“Definitely, I wish I would have had that one back,” Dowell said of the play. “I knew right after I did it that I had the whole top half of the net open. I just didn’t lift the puck enough … we had our chances, we just didn’t capitalize.”

The Badger power play sputtered to a 0-for-6 night, yielding only four shots on goal. The unit had its final chance with just 3:27 remaining in the game, but failed to score and produced only a single shot. UW pulled Bruckler with around one minute remaining, but did little with the extra attacker, giving CC the win.

“Can you spell anemic?” Eaves said of the UW power play. “It was just one of those nights. The power play was just an extension of issues we had with the puck all night. … I don’t know if a penalty has ever been declined in hockey, but I was sure wishing I could throw out a flag and say, ‘We’ll just play five-on-five.’ It was that tough tonight.”

Wisconsin had considerably less trouble generating offense in the series opener, despite a lethargic start. The Tigers out-shot the Badgers 17-6 in the opening period, but Bruckler stopped everything CC could muster.

“It took awhile for us to catch on to their skill and quickness, and we weren’t ready to play,” Eaves said. “To me, the story of the game is the fact that Bernd Bruckler gave us a chance to get our legs, get used to their quickness and abilities. We were dysfunctional in the first period and a half.”

Forward Matt Auffrey broke the 0-0 deadlock with 8:38 remaining in the second period. The freshman collected the rebound off a Tom Gilbert shot at the bottom of the right circle and beat CC goaltender Matt Zaba high and stick side to give UW a 1-0 advantage.

Wisconsin broke away in the third period, totaling four goals on 10 shots. Ryan MacMurchy started the binge just 55 seconds into the period, avoiding several CC defenders and beating Zaba with a backhand after forcing a turnover by defenseman Brian Salcido near the blue line. The play was one of several Tiger miscues.

With 14:38 remaining in the contest, Ross Carlson attempted to send a centering pass from the right of the goal to Auffrey. Instead, the puck deflected off CC forward Brandon Polich’s skate into the net.

Less than a minute later, a Tiger turnover gave MacMurchy the puck once again inside the CC zone. The junior sent the puck toward the net, where line mate Nick Licari took it and beat Zaba with a backhand. Licari would add his second goal of the contest with 9:14 remaining in the game, with MacMurchy assisting once again.

CC forward Brett Sterling broke the shutout at the 2:38 mark with a power-play rebound off a Salcido shot from the point. The goal was the lone point on the weekend for either Sterling or line mate Marty Sertich, the NCAA’s top two scorers. It was also the night’s only blemish for Bruckler, who stopped 39 shots for his 16th win of the season.

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