HOUGHTON, Mich. (PRESS RELEASE)—The No. 3 Wisconsin men's hockey team (20-8-4, 15-7-3 WCHA) clinched home ice for the first round of the WCHA Playoffs by defeating the Michigan Tech Huskies (5-25-0, 4-21-0 WCHA) Friday night, 5-2. The Badgers trailed 2-1 after one period but scored four straight goals, including three in the final period, to come away with the victory.
Senior forward Michael Davies (St. Louis) led the way with three assists and now leads the Badgers with 43 points on the season. Sophomore forward Derek Stepan added two assists while junior defenseman Brendan Smith (Mimico, Ontario) scored his 15th goal of the season.
Tied at 2-2 entering the third period, the Badgers took their first lead of the night 1:30 into the frame. On a Wisconsin power play, sophomore forward Jordy Murray (Faribault, Minn.) put Wisconsin on top. After Davies tried to cash in the rebound, Stepan gained control of the puck. He slid it over to Murray who muscled it into the net.
Less than two minutes later, the Badgers were at it again. With Tech's Jordan Baker in the penalty box with a five-minute major penalty, Davies found a wide open Smith who fired a slapshot into the back of the net. This brought the score to a 4-2 Badger advantage. Freshman defenseman Justin Schultz (West Kelowna, British Columbia) tallied the goal's secondary assist.
Senior forward Andy Bohmbach (Hudson, Wis.) sealed the Badger victory with just over two minutes remaining in the game. After a nice pass from freshman forward Craig Smith (Madison, Wis.), Bohmbach fired the puck past Genoe, solidifying the 5-2 victory for Wisconsin. Junior forward Podge Turnbull (Hayward, Wis.) added a helper in the score as well.
Michigan Tech got on the board first just under four minutes into the game. On the Huskies' first shot of the game, junior forward Bennett Royer gave MTU the 1-0 advantage. His slapshot from the left slot slid under the legs of junior netminder Scott Gudmandson (Sherwood Park, Alberta) and into the back of the net for the game's first goal.
But, at the 8:45 mark of the same period, Turnbull tipped in a slapshot attempt by Stepan to knot the game back up. Right after killing a penalty, Stepan ripped a shot through a crowd of Huskies and Badgers. Anchored in the middle, Turnbull redirected the shot, and the puck soared into the back of the net for UW. Sophomore defenseman Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka, MInn.) contributed the secondary helper on the play. The assist was Stepan's team-high 30th of the season, and the game was now knotted at one.
The Huskies regained their lead at the 16:54 mark of the opening period. Gudmandson made the initial save on a MTU slapshot, but the puck trickled out of the crease. Sophomore forward Brett Olson was there to bang home the loose puck for the Huskies, giving them a 2-1 advantage heading into the second period.
Though down on the scoreboard, the Badgers dominated the Huskies in shots-on-goal in the opening segment, 20-8.
After over eight minutes of scoreless hockey in the second period, senior tri-captain Ben Street (Coquitlam, British Columbia) tied the game back up after some relentless offensive play by UW. Davies dug the puck out from behind the net and spun around to the front of the net. He then lost the puck, but it trickled over to the swinging stick of Street. His wrister was too hot for Husky goaltender Kevin Genoe to handle, and the game was knotted back up, 2-2. Freshman defenseman John Ramage (St. Louis) started the sequence by contributing the secondary assist.
That would be the period's only goal. The Badgers were still in domination of shots-on-goal, having outshot MTU, 25-6, in the second period. Tech went a stretch of 10:13 in the second period without a shot on net.
The Badgers ended the game having outshot the Huskies, 63-22.
Gudmandson's record climbed to 12-3-4 on the season after he turned away 20 Husky attempts. MTU goaltender Kevin Genoe stopped 58 UW shots, as his record fell to 4-17-1 on the year.
The game also marks the Badgers' 20th win on the season, the fifth time in Head Coach Mike Eaves' eight seasons UW has reached the 20-win plateau.
The Badgers and Huskies square off again tomorrow night as the Badgers attempt the season sweep of Michigan Tech. The game is slated for 6 p.m. (CST).