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 stay hot, sweep Minnesota State

Craig Smith celebrates his game-winning goal from Saturday’s victory over MSU. Smith is the team-leader in goals with 15 this season.[/media-credit]
It was a sign of growth and leadership. It was also a rare display of skill in crunch time.

Craig Smith’s third period goal Saturday against Minnesota State-Mankato – a tally that came right after the Mavericks had tied the score at  1 – meant a lot to the Wisconsin men’s hockey team. But most importantly, it led to a 2-1 win and a series sweep over MSU.

After controlling the game and holding on to a 1-0 lead through two periods of play, Joe Schiller broke through and evened the score for the Mavericks with a rising shot from the right wing that beat Scott Gudmandson’s glove. But almost immediately thereafter, the Badgers’ first line and top defensive pairing found a response.


Junior defenseman Jake Gardiner picked out Smith as he was streaking towards the Mavericks’ zone and the perfect pass left Smith one-on-one with MSU goaltender Austin Lee.

“We worked on that play all week in practice,” Gardiner said. “Obviously Smitty (Smith) has the ability to get open, which is good. He is a very skilled player and it shows how we completed a simple D-to-D pass and found Smitty down the middle.”

Smith deked left to his backhand, pulled the puck across to his forehand and swiftly slid the puck past Lee to put the University of Wisconsin back in front.

The game was tied for 39 seconds.

“That shows how we work in units here, we get a goal scored on us, and we use it to respond pretty well,” Smith said. “Our team responds very well in those situations.”

“It’s about taking what’s given, and Jake Gardiner saw what was there and made a pinpoint pass and one of our game-breakers makes a great play on the goaltender,” UW head coach Mike Eaves added.

Jordy Murray opened the scoring with a power play goal midway through the first period. The junior forward grabbed his own rebound in front of the net and converted a second attempt to give the Badgers the lead. From there, Gudmandson held the fort for UW, making 34 saves and handling the late pressure applied by MSU to help seal the victory for the Badgers.

Friday night, the Badgers rode a second period scoring outburst to earn a 3-2 victory. After Andrew Sackrison scored on the power play to give the Mavericks an early lead, UW stormed back.

Sophomore defenseman Justin Schultz drove hard to net, and a rebound came loose that senior Podge Turnbull tucked away to tie the game. At the 7:20 mark of the period, Gardiner fired a shot from the high slot that rang of both posts. But unlike his recent history with the iron, the puck found its way into the back of the net.

“It was nice. I was actually worried [that it wouldn’t go in],” Gardiner said of the goal. “I’ve just been unlucky this year, so I hope this started something for me.” ”

The Badgers took advantage of an odd-man rush at the end of the period to extend the lead. Freshman forward Tyler Barnes gained the zone and passed cross-ice to defenseman Craig Johnson. After controlling the puck off his skate, Johnson found Michael Mersch streaking towards the net, and the freshman scored to give UW a 3-1 advantage.

With just over five minutes remaining in the game, MSU defenseman Mike Louwerse fired a shot through multiple screens that beat Gudmandson. But once again, the Badgers faced the final wave of pressure and closed out the game.

UW has now won 10 of its last 11, including five straight wins in games decided by one goal. It has been a remarkable stretch for the Badgers, who now find themselves in the thick of the WCHA title race.

All of the sudden, UW doesn’t appear to be so young anymore.
“The best word to describe our performance is growth or maturity,” Gudmandson said. “I think a lot of guys have matured and a lot of the freshmen are coming into their own and a lot of guys are finding their roles on this team.”

“Tonight and last night we were in one-goal situations, we know that this is playoff hockey, this is tournament hockey,” Eaves said. “And we are getting experiences that we are being successful at.”

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