Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers break out the brooms

DENVER — When all is said and done for the Wisconsin men's hockey team this season, there may not be another NCAA title to be won. But for one more weekend, at least, the Badgers showed they still have the heart of a champion.

And with that champion's mentality, it took a couple of one-goal wins in a hostile road environment — just the second road sweep of the year — to keep this season alive.

The Badgers (17-17-4) pulled off their most impressive feat so far in this up-and-down season, with a shocking road sweep of No. 11 Denver (21-15-4) at Magness Arena. UW punched its ticket to next week's WCHA Final Five in St. Paul with a 2-1 victory Saturday night, following up a 3-2 win the previous evening.


In the decisive Game 2, Wisconsin's top line got the Badgers' offense going early. Forward Jack Skille hit DU goaltender Glenn Fisher high with a shot from the boards, and the rebound bounced out to UW forward Andrew Joudrey. The Badger captain slapped home his eighth tally of the season at 10:48 of the first, giving the Badgers a 1-0 lead.

The Badgers' second goal — and ultimate game-winner — came from an unlikely source in an unlikely situation. Wisconsin notched just its fifth shorthanded goal of the year on a 2-on-1 rush, when forward Andy Brandt received a perfect pass from forward Ross Carlson and tipped it in for his second of the season.

The Pioneers struck back in the second, when a defensive turnover by Josh Engel led to a scramble in front of the UW net. Badger goaltender Brian Elliott was left all turned around, looking for his stick, and DU forward Rhett Rhakshani took advantage, firing home his tenth goal of the year at 8:27 of the middle period.

After that, Elliott was nothing short of spectacular in his 50th career win. A barrage of shots in the third period — including a clear breakaway by Denver leading scorer Brock Trotter — were turned away by Wisconsin's All-American stopper.

"One of Brian's strengths is the ability to refocus," Eaves said. "We talked about it last year, when he started to play back-to-back games. … If there was a goal that he wished he had a second chance [to stop it], he lets it go and gets ready for the next chance. That speaks to his maturity as an athlete."

"[Elliott's] our leader; he's our backbone," Joudrey added. "He's as good as anybody else in the country. Hopefully, he keeps playing the way he does."

When asked if this series victory was an "upset" in the Badgers' minds, Carlson simply shrugged and then elaborated.

"I think we can play with pretty much any team in the country, I really believe that," Carlson said. "I feel that great about our team. When everybody's on their game, we can go out there with every team in the country."

Game 1 — Wisconsin 3, Denver 2

UW forward Jake Dowell was clutch again for the Badgers, scoring the game-winning goal with 4:24 remaining to give UW the all-important Game 1 victory, 3-2.

After Wisconsin relinquished a 2-0 lead, defenseman Matt Olinger's shot hit forward Michael Davies from behind, and Davies put a backhand on net. DU goaltender Peter Mannino made the stop, but Dowell was in the right place at the right time and tucked away the rebound with 4:24 to play.

"They played a much more complete three periods than we did and earned the win, deserved the win," DU coach George Gwozdecky said. "The third goal's a great example of how they competed all night long. They had a lot of great chances, but they seemed to have that hunger when they needed to, to put the puck in the net."

Dowell's goal was his team-high 17th of the year, and was unarguably his biggest so far.

"I don't think that's been my role since probably high school," said Dowell of his new position as a scorer. "So it's different, but I am aware that goals are tough to come by sometimes, as an older guy, you really try to go out there and set the tone and do whatever I can do."

"When he gets an opportunity with two minutes left in the game, he buries it," Davies added. "He's been real good at that all year. That's huge, that shows the type of player he is."

The Badgers will have to win their Final Five play-in game this Thursday against Michigan Tech in order to qualify for Friday's semifinal against top-seeded Minnesota.

"We're fighting for our tournament lives, and this is one step for us. So we were successful in this step, and we go into St. Paul and we need to take that next step too."

Series notes

Wisconsin is now 15-0 when winning the first game in the best-of-three format for WCHA opening rounds … defenseman Jeff Likens assisted on both of UW's goals Saturday, but left the game early in the third period with what Eaves called simply a "lower-body injury" … Brandt's earlier goal this year also came at Denver on Jan. 6, in the form of an empty-netter … defenseman Joe Piskula's Friday goal was his first of the season, and the third in 108 career games … no power-play goals were scored in the series.

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