Badger power play leads UW past UND for third place
CHN Staff Report
ST. PAUL, Minn. After 80 minutes of play this weekend, Wisconsin had yet to score a single goal. Down 1-0 to North Dakota and its NCAA hopes dashed, the Badgers seemingly had nothing to play for.
Then, in the second period of Saturday's WCHA Final Five third place game, the Badgers played their best period of the season. In that frame alone, Wisconsin outshot UND 25-9 and outscored them 3-0.
The period was the difference in a 4-1 win over the Fighting Sioux.
And even after being eliminated from the NCAA's following Minnesota-Duluth's upset win over North Dakota Friday, Badger players and head coach Mike Eaves said there was still plenty to play for.
"Our goal was to get that 20th win of the year, and get some redemption," Eaves said. "None of us were very pleased with, not only the outcome of [Friday's] game, but with the way we played.
"We wanted redemption and to show the people here that we're a quality hockey team."
It was also a final showcase for Badger seniors, including starting goalie Shane Connelly. The Cheltenham, Pa., native stopped 35 shots in his twilight Badger performance.
"Even when we were taking penalties, there was a sense of calm from the coaches and his teammates because of the way he was playing," Eaves said.
The performance also proved his coaches and team captains right, as Eaves thought about starting sophomore Scott Gudmandson in net — similar to what UW did for Connelly two years ago. That opportunity allowed the young goalie to play on the big stage for the first time in his career.
"We talked about it last night and talked to the captains to get their input," Eaves said. "We all concluded it would be in the team's best interest to play Shane today."
On the other side, North Dakota comes to St. Paul and loses a pair in the Final Five, wrapping up a disappointing weekend for the MacNaughton Cup champions. Over the past two years, the tournament's top seed is now 0-4.
"Obviously, we're disappointed, but we can a lot of positives out of this weekend," said junior defenseman Chay Genoway. "We need to work on our consistency for 60 minutes. We've had too many ups and downs."
North Dakota also has something Wisconsin doesn't.
"We do have a tomorrow," Genoway said. "We need to regroup and have a good week of practice. We're excited about the NCAA's."