Power play ‘Catamount’ to victory for UW

first_imgST. PAUL, Minn. — The Wisconsin men’s hockey team learned a lesson about starting games quickly last week: If you start fast, you win; if you take too long to get going, it’s game over. Luckily for the Badgers, that lesson didn’t quite apply Friday night.Down 2-1 to Vermont early in the West Regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament, Wisconsin scored twice in the second period to secure a 3-2 win and date with St. Cloud State Saturday night for a trip to the Frozen Four.The Catamounts outplayed the Badgers in the first period in jumping out to the 2-1 lead. But UW’s power play came through on the night, producing all three of the Badgers’ goals.Hobey Baker Award candidate and senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion got the game winner at 19:16 of the second period. Fellow Hobey candidate and defenseman Brendan Smith made a good play to keep the puck in the zone, then passed to Justin Schultz, who dropped a no-look dump pass to Geoffrion in the high slot. Geoffrion fired to UV goaltender Rob Madore’s blocker side and scored.“I was in front of the net, so I got to see the whole thing,” Geoffrion said. “I figured that Steps and Mikey were right down the net, so I figured I’d come up high and release to get an open shot.”Senior forward Michael Davies tied the game at 4:02, shelving a pass that came from sophomore center Derek Stepan, who was behind the Vermont net. The UW power play unit was effective enough on the night that it started 3-for-3, and the second unit didn’t even take the ice until the third period.Wisconsin finished 3-for-7 on the power play, although two of the man advantages were cut short by Badger penalties.“I think we just took what was given, it was good for us. I felt that sometimes they were running around and they didn’t know who to cover,” Smith said of the unit’s success. “I think it worked for us and hopefully we can take it on tomorrow.”Vermont was held to 1-for-5 on the power play, getting its special teams goal from Brian Roloff, who was able to bury a rebound that UW goaltender Scott Gudmandson was unable to cover up. The goal put the Catamounts up 2-1 at 15:54 in the first period.UVM was able to tie the game earlier, when Dan Lawson took the puck in and collided with Gudmandson, who was pushed back into his goal. The play was reviewed and the officials ruled it a goal afterward.Part of UW’s poor first period — which was poor despite the fact that Schultz put UW on the board first — may have been the long wait for the game to start. The early game between St. Cloud State and Northern Michigan went to double-overtime, so the scheduled start of 8 p.m. was pushed to 8:42.“I think the delay [was part of it] — and we got the first goal, which was certainly what we wanted,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “But we weren’t playing the way we wanted. Part of it was Vermont, part of it was the wait, part of it was I think, the nerves.”But Geoffrion, who finished with a goal and an assist, and Smith, who had two assists, helped ensure the team would play another game — and perhaps boosted their Hobey Baker candidacies.“Their play in the game and the results speak for themselves,” Eaves said. “In a big game they played the way they’re capable of and if you’re going win these type of games, your best players have to be your best players and they were tonight for us.”Wisconsin will face St. Cloud State at 8 p.m. Saturday night in the regional final. The two teams met last Friday in the WCHA Final Five semifinal, where the Huskies skated to a 2-0 win behind the strong play of freshman goaltender Mike Lee.Lee was solid for SCSU against NMU, finishing the 2OT game with 42 saves in the 4-3 win. On the flip side, he was pulled after giving up four goals in 26:05 of play in the WCHA title game, so which Lee shows up for the final could have an interesting impact on the game.“We want a little redemption. Back here in the building (last week’s game was also at the Xcel), the Final Five, they ended up taking us and we were a little upset,” Smith said. “We’re going to try to look at video and get back and try to get some redemption.”last_img

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