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The Badger Herald

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The Badger Herald

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Geoffrion shootout goal wins tourney

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Senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion and the Wisconsin Badgers sent the Badger Hockey Showdown out in style with a shootout victory over No. 9 Yale.[/media-credit]

When the Badgers’ old winning formula of outshooting and outscoring their opponents by a wide margin was slowed, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team found a new way to win: be resilient.

Facing a No. 9-ranked Yale team that outshot Wisconsin 42-22, the depleted Badgers hung on to win the final Badger Hockey Showdown in a shootout. Senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion got the winning shootout goal as UW overcame a shorthanded roster, sloppy first period and a game misconduct to Jordy Murray to hang on to a 2-2 tie through regulation and overtime to force the shootout.

UW head coach Mike Eaves said he was happy with what the Badgers showed him during the tournament.

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“Well, I am, because I think we were a resilient group this weekend,” he said. “I mean, we played this game with five defensemen and basically five defensemen last night too. I think the fact that we had to mix our lines up and try to find chemistry as we ran along… but I think the resiliency of this group was something that I think showed up.”

Holding on to a 2-1 lead in the third period, Yale’s Brian O’Neill scored a power play goal with 2:37 to play to tie the game. The Badgers missed opportunities earlier to take a bigger lead when Ben Grotting fired a shot off the post on what should have been an easy goal, as well a botched breakaway by Aaron Bendickson.

So with three of its young guns missing due to the World Junior Championship, it was two seniors who stepped up to push Wisconsin (13-5-2) to a six-game unbeaten streak. Seniors Michael Davies and Geoffrion scored in the shootout, while Yale’s third shooter, Denny Kearney was the only player to convert for the Bulldogs.

Mark Arcobello was stuffed trying to go five-hole on UW goaltender Scott Gudmandson to begin the shootout. Davies was the first shooter for UW, getting the goaltender to bite and scoring easily. Gudmandson made the save on Andrew Miller, and UW’s Brendan Smith wasn’t able to convert his attempt.

When Geoffrion came up as the last shooter, the senior captain had the chance to win the game for UW. He admitted he was a little nervous and surprised he got the call.

“I’ve never been in that situation before, actually, right before coach said I was going to go, I got kind of shocked, I looked at (fellow senior captain Ben Street) Streeter, I said, ‘Huh?'” Geoffrion said.

But the captain got Yale goaltender Nick Maricic to bite and deked to the stick side to put away the goal and seal the win.

Davies scored UW’s two goals in regulation, shelving a feed from Brendan Smith to tie the game 1-1 in the second period, then taking it in alone and nudging it past Maricic at 14:11 of the period to give the Badgers a 2-1 lead. He also had three assists in the previous night’s 5-4 win over Merrimack.

“I’m just getting the bounces right now, I think the whole team is,” Davies said. “And we have to keep it going the second half (of the season).”

For Eaves, however, Davies brought more to the game than numbers on the box score

“The other thing you notice is, geez, he made himself noticeable with his physical play. He played with an edge and he was comfortable out there,” he said. “He was one of the guys that I think kind of was flourishing in this atmosphere and this setting and in the championship kind of mindset.

“As a senior, it’s nice to see that growth in him, stepping up and do those kind of things.”

The Badgers were fortunate Davies played the game he did, as they looked just as out of sync against the Bulldogs Sunday as they did Saturday night against Merrimack. Playing with essentially five defensemen and mixed up lines, Wisconsin took another blow when Murray was called for a checking from behind major penalty 16:04 into the first period.

But UW successfully killed off the five-minute major and went into the first intermission down just 1-0 off of Kearney’s early goal. With 1:05 of penalty left to kill to begin the second, UW quickly found its feet and tied the game up just 2:26 into the period on Davies’ first goal.

Although through their first 17 games the Badgers hadn’t won a one-goal game, they now have two consecutive one-goal wins and a shootout win. In battling a lack of chemistry and a Yale scoring offense ranked No. 1 in the country, Wisconsin showed it can find a way to win no matter the odds.

While Davies and Geoffrion came up clutch as the veterans on the team, the calming presence and experience of all the team’s seniors wasn’t something to be understated.

“I think a lot of guys stepped up, maybe not on the scoreboard, but did a lot of good little things… blocking shots, even something as simple as getting the puck out of the zone,” Street said. “I think the leadership that we showed tonight was that we got guys to calm down, do the simple things, get back to basics — and that helped us out in the long run.”

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