Badgers pull victory out of hat–almost

first_imgAfter Friday night’s debacle — an ugly 3-1 loss to Minnesota State — UW men’s hockey coach Mike Eaves admitted to nearly pulling his lineup out of a goalie mask for Saturday night’s game.”Almost,” Eaves conceded. “When I went to bed last night, I was thinking about putting names in a hat.”At the very least, it seemed like the sixth-year coach did just that. Out of 12 forwards, eight found themselves in either a new position or on a different line Saturday evening. Additionally, Davis Drewiske had a new defensive partner on the second unit, as freshman Jamie McBain replaced junior Josh Engel in Saturday’s game.But perhaps the most stirring shakeup was between the pipes. For the fourth time this season — and the third time following a loss — Shane Connelly got the nod ahead of Hobey Baker finalist Brian Elliott (8-13-1). And for the third consecutive time, Connelly (3-0-1) followed up an Elliott loss with a victory.As much as Friday’s game was filled with embarrassment for Wisconsin (11-13-2, 8-9-1 WCHA), Saturday’s impressive 4-1 win over Minnesota State (9-15-4, 6-11-3) was a proud night for the Badgers. Did the roster shake-up have any effect?Sort of, according to Eaves.”We saw some things in the third period [Friday], we moved Ben Street on the wing in the third period last night between [Aaron] Bendickson and [Tom] Gorowsky, and we saw some good things,” he said. “So we shook it up a little bit, and I think that stimulated some things as well.”Senior forward Jake Dowell, who remained with senior center Andrew Joudrey on the top line, didn’t seem to believe this particular plethora of line changes made a great deal of difference in UW’s play from one night to another.”There’s been a whole lot of shakeups all year, and so some nights things click and they’re different than next week,” Dowell said. “But I think it was just a matter of everybody playing hard, no matter who they were with, trying to get the puck in the zone and keep possession of the puck and score some goals.”The top two lines did just that, at least with the adjusted lines. The Badgers’ best five forwards (Dowell, Joudrey, senior Ross Carlson, sophomore Jack Skille and freshman Michael Davies) combined for just eight shots Friday, but exploded for 17 shots on net the next night, helping Wisconsin win the shots battle 35-18 in the series finale.And on that night, the shots finally translated to goals for a team starved for offense. Davies scored his first goal since Nov. 24, with the assists to McBain — back after being scratched Friday — and new linemate Carlson.Then, in the second and third periods, Skille’s promotion to the first line with Dowell and Joudrey paid instant dividends, as the young scorer earned his first hat trick as a Badger. Joudrey assisted on the third goal, and while Dowell was credited with no points, it was his defensive clear of the puck that set up Skille’s first goal on the night. Most notably, those three forwards combined for a plus-10 rating on the night.Meanwhile, it would be unfair to say Elliott is being outplayed by his backup this year. But in the Badgers’ victory, Connelly did his part in ensuring Wisconsin got back on the right track, turning away all but one of the 18 shots he faced on the night while remaining undefeated in net this season.Whether it was instant chemistry the Badgers were able to create with new linemates and a backup netminder, or simply the urgency of trying to avoid a home sweep to the cellar-dwelling Mavericks, Wisconsin was able to put together one of its better hockey efforts of the season, and it was done without the usual lines in place.”I don’t think it really makes a difference who’s playing with who right now,” Dowell said.Game Notes: With just under a minute remaining in the second period, MSU’s Zach Harrison shoved UW’s Blake Geoffrion into the Maverick bench well after the whistle, which sparked an on-ice pushing match that lasted several minutes. When all was said and done, 74 penalty minutes were assessed, including 12 to MSU star Travis Morin. The Maverick captain didn’t appear to be involved in any shoving during the melee. … Morin, Minnesota State’s top point-getter and the WCHA’s third-place scorer with 31 points, had nine shots in the series but was held without a goal or assist in either game. … Skille’s hat trick was the first for Wisconsin since Mar. 25, 2006, when Joe Pavelski hung up three goals on Bemidji State in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. … The Badgers went 0-for-11 on the power play in the two games, though Davies’ first-period goal on Saturday came just 5 seconds after a Maverick penalty ended. … Minnesota State goaltender Mike Zacharias assisted on the first goal of the series.last_img

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