Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin can’t get offense going in Saturday letdown

DULUTH, Minn. — While the Wisconsin men’s hockey team shacked up at the Sheraton in downtown Duluth for the weekend, the Badgers probably spent more time getting intimately familiar with the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center’s penalty box.

UW went on the penalty kill a single-game season-high 10 times in Saturday’s loss. After giving up seven power play chances to Minnesota-Duluth the night before, the 17 total opponent’s power plays were also the most Wisconsin has given up in a series this season.

Playing down a man for almost 20 minutes Saturday resulted in Wisconsin being shut out for the first time this season, leaving UMD the only WCHA team that hasn’t been shutout.


“We just never got any flow,” Eaves said. “Because we were going to the penalty box, we weren’t able to use our depth and roll our four lines.

“It’s about rhythm. Offense is about rhythm,” he said later. “You talk to football coaches, they want their quarterback and line and their running backs to get into rhythm and we just never got that rhythm.”

Even the five power plays UW got Saturday provided no boost, as the Badgers went scoreless and looked out of sync on all their man advantages.

The lack of power play success and the constant penalties met early in the first period. Wisconsin got its first power play of the game on a roughing penalty to Mike Connolly at 13:53, only to see defenseman Brendan Smith get called for hooking 34 seconds later.

The Badgers would see the tail end of a second period power play cut off as well, with defenseman Ryan McDonagh called for goaltender interference with six seconds left in a penalty to UMD’s David Grun. And with an opportunity to spend the last 1:10 of the game a man up, senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion went off with 18 seconds left in the game.

“We felt like every time we got a little bit going, we ended up taking a penalty and it kind of killed the momentum,” senior tri-captain Ben Street said.

On a positive note, the Badgers gave up just one power play goal in the 17 opportunities. UMD came into the series converting on a WCHA-best 24.2 percent of its man advantages and dropped to 22.5 percent after playing UW.

In Friday’s game especially, the Wisconsin penalty kill looked dominant, giving up just three shots on goal and no goals in seven UMD power plays. The secret to UW’s success on the penalty kill seemed to stem from its aggressive forecheck.

“They’re very skilled, but sometimes when you have pressure, you don’t have as much time, and sometimes you panic and make the wrong play,” Smith said. “We were fortunate to get on them right quick.”

While the Badgers were, for the most part, able to replicate that success on the PK the next night, it came at the expense of the offense.

Wisconsin entered Saturday’s game with a golden opportunity to get a win and sit alone in second place in the WCHA. Instead, the Badgers will head back to Madison wondering what could have been had they not spent 17:44 of game time in the penalty box.

“I think this will be a true lesson for our guys,” McDonagh said. “We’ve been close at times, it’s almost cost us games — here it might have. We’ve got to make sure we’re not doing that, especially down the stretch.”

Friday’s nifty play

With all that time off during winter break, Wisconsin had some extra minutes to work on some more peculiar plays. That work paid off when winger John Mitchell got the Badgers on the board midway through their game against Minnesota-Duluth Friday.

While on the power play, UW freshman forward Craig Smith skated behind the UMD goal. In a move that surprised everyone — Mitchell included — Smith knocked a bank pass off the bottom bar of the net to the big 6-foot-5-inch forward, who buried the puck to tie the game at one.

“I saw I was open, I thought [Smith] was just going to pass it blade to blade,” Mitchell said. “I was ready for it, it kind of was in my skates, I was able to kick it to my stick and make the play.”

The added element of surprise was crucial on a night where most of the Badgers’ shots would be blocked in front or saved. According to Mitchell, it was a chance for something the team has practiced repeatedly to make an impact in a game.

“We’ve actually started it quite a lot this year. We’d go out on our own… `over break we didn’t have school obviously,” Mitchell said. “We’d go out and practice little plays like that to ourselves, just in tight traffic — kind of things like that — and today it worked.”

“It’s an indirect play. It’s one of those tidbits that we work on,” Eaves said. “You hope that your kids have the poise and confidence in the game to try something like that and they did tonight.”

But how often does a play like that work flawlessly?

“Well, it’s the first one we’ve seen all year,” Eaves said with a laugh.

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