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Third-ranked Wisconsin hockey team ties top-rated Denver

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Benjamin Worgull/Special to the Gazette
January 23, 2010
— In the hours leading up to Friday’s pivotal matchup, University of Wisconsin men’s hockey coach Mike Eaves said that playing the top-ranked team in the nation was going to bring out the absolute best in his Badgers.

It took two periods, but Eaves’ premonition was fairly accurate. The problem was that he made no guesses about the ending, which always seems to go the way of the Pioneers.


No. 3 Wisconsin battled back from a two-goal, third-period deficit to take a one-goal lead into the final minutes, but the Badgers couldn’t hold on against No. 1 Denver and had to settle for a 3-3 overtime tie in front of 12,063 at the Kohl Center.


“The result was what you might expect from two top hockey teams in the college world,” Eaves said. “It was a fantastic third period and could have been an unbelievable third period had we held on to that lead.”


The results were a mix for Wisconsin (13-6-4, 9-5-3 WCHA). On one hand, the Badgers finally figured out junior goalie Marc Cheverie, who had his scoreless streak against Wisconsin end at exactly 183 minutes and then was lambasted for three goals in a 4:12 stretch.


On the flip side, the Badgers haven’t beaten Denver (14-5-4, 10-3-4) in the past six meetings and are 14-13-3 overall against the Pioneers at the Kohl Center since it opened for hockey in 1998. Even more mind-boggling, the Badgers are 0-6-15 in their last 21 overtime games, dating back to the 2008 season.


“We are all sick and tired about how they come in here and do well,” a visibly frustrated UW senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion said. “It doesn’t matter.”


Wisconsin controlled tempo and outshot the Pioneers during the first two-plus periods, but the Badgers were down a pair of goals. That was a result of Denver’s defense frustrating the UW’s high-powered offense, which came into the series leading the conference with 4.05 goals per game


With the Badgers getting nothing close past Cheverie, Denver assistant captain Kyle Ostrow’s goal in the opening minutes of the third period, backhanding a centering pass in past UW goalie Scott Gudmandson (20 saves) at 1:56, looked to be the clincher.


That’s when things started bouncing the way of Wisconsin. Geoffrion deflected a shot from the point Cheverie (32 saves) at 4:12 in the third, finally injecting some life into the crowd.


“I think everybody in the building was finally relieved we got one in,” said Davies, who has a six-game point streak. “In the past, this team has just killed us.”


Davies added to his impressive total, scoring his 16 points in his 15th career game against Denver, when he rifled in a rebound at 7:15 to tie the score at two and was on the ice when Geoffrion scored his 17th of the year on a centering pass from Jordy Murray at 8:43 to tie the game.


“We just stuck with it,” Davies said. “The whole team was like that the whole game.”


But just like in past meetings, Denver found a way, as Anthony Maiani scored from the right circle at 18:04 to send the game to overtime.


Gudmandson had to make four critical saves in overtime, including one on a breakaway attempt, to preserve the bittersweet tie.


“I know the guys are disappointed,” Eaves said. “(That third period) is stuff we need to bring back and build on.”




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