WCHA Consolation Notebook
by Theresa Spisak/CHN Reporter
ST. PAUL, Minn. With just 10 seconds remaining in overtime, Ben Street backhanded a puck off a faceoff past St. Cloud State goaltender Bobby Goepfert to give Wisconsin a 4-3 win.
The goal came right after the Badgers called a late timeout and was a result of the Badger players taking charge instead of coach Mike Eaves.
"The guys came back to the bench and they were talking like, 'Hey, look, if win the faceoff and you do this, they take away that so I have this'," Eaves said. "They took charge of that moment and ultimately they have to go out there and perform it and they were able to execute it and get a rebound and put it home."
"It was a typical Wisconsin win for us, being down and then battling back," said Street.
Bye-Bye No. 1 Seed?
With the loss, the Huskies may have lost their No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, though no matter how the rest of the games shake out, they will be at least a No. 2 seed. However, coach Bob Motzko does not seem to be worried no matter what happens.
"It's honestly a guessing game anyway, what may or may not happen," he said. "The same band is going to go to the same place if you're a two seed or a one seed so I thought that sounded good.
"I told our guys we're playing with the same teams — it doesn't matter either way ... You guys keep saying North Dakota's the best team in the country and we're in their band right now so we can't go with them so sounds pretty good to me — it all depends on what happens.
"We're just darn happy to be in it — a lot of times it's the luck of the draw and we don't know what the draw is going to be — a one or a two."
Third Season/Second Chances
While St. Cloud may not have gotten the result they wanted on Saturday, they still get another chance to re-prepare themselves for the third stage of the season — the NCAA playoffs.
"It's definitely a second chance," said sophomore John Swanson. "There's a lot of good teams out there who aren't going to get a chance to play and a lot of them are deserving. I think it's a second chance for us to turn things around and hopefully make a run for it."
"It's been a mental grind," said Motzko. "We've had a mental grind, but there is energy. You've just got to get over it and obviously a win today would have helped that mental edge [but] I think you can get it back quickly."
Huskies fans got a scare early in the third period when goaltender Bobby Goepfert laid face down on the ice for a few minutes after taking a Ross Carlson shot to his right shoulder/neck area. However, Goepfert was able to get up and resume playing the rest of the game.
"He was fine, I think it was just kind of a stinger," said Motzko after the game. "He might be a little sore tomorrow; he's fine now.
"Unless something was broken or hanging off, there was nothing going to happen to him."
"It was a great sign when he got back up on his feet — it looked like it caught him up high and when he got back up and he was able to finish the game, it was definitely a great sign," said Swanson.
Passing the Torch
Fans may have been confused about Eaves' decision to pull Brian Elliott right after the Huskies scored a goal 29 seconds into the game, especially given Elliott's career and the way he has played in the past few games. However, Eaves planned the move as a way to pass the proverbial torch to sophomore Shane Connelly, Elliott's successor.
"We took a page out of basketball so we wanted to start Brian and then at the first whistle, we wanted to have his teammates honor him by having him come off the ice and give him a salute and then kind of almost pass the torch on to Shane," said Eaves. "Unfortunately it didn't work out the way we wanted — they scored the first goal and I said, 'Well, we're not pulling him out until the next whistle then' and then he came out."
However, the move gave Connelly experience, something that can be crucial if Wisconsin makes the postseason next year.
"[Getting in the game helped] get my confidence going and get my game experience so it was a huge lift for me to get in there — an opportunity to play St. Cloud on a big stage at the Xcel Energy Center," said Connelly.
"It's a huge thing, it's what we tried to do to Brian his sophomore year," said Eaves, "and it was another opportunity for [Connelly's] growth."
A Winning Note is the Sweetest Sound
While the Badgers failed to repeat as National Champions like the two previous WCHA teams before them, the team takes consolation in that they were still able to end their season with a victory.
"It's always nice to win your last game — not many teams get a chance to do that," said Street. "To be over .500 and have the seniors have every season over .500 I think is a thing they can be proud of too."
"To end the career the way we did in the Xcel Energy Center was about as good as you could hope for," agreed senior Andy Brandt.
Other Notes: Motzko replaced third- and fourth-line forwards Aaron Brocklehurst and Gary Houseman with Marty Mjelleli and A.J. Gale and third-pairing defenseman David Carlisle ... Nate Raduns was injured during the game, yet no information had been released as of 7pm CST.