Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday Recap: That's How You Finish A Sweep

One of the biggest issues for this seasons Badger hockey squad has been the ability to finish teams on Saturday night. The Badgers have just 9 losses this season, but 7 of those losses have come during the second night of a series that they won the opening game.

Saturday night the Badgers played hard, fast, and hungry and when they had an opportunity to finish Anchorage, they put their foot on the gas pedal never looked back.

Badger seniors accounted for five out of the seven goals scored tonight in their last time playing on Kohl Center ice including two from both Aaron Bendickson (pictured) and captain Blake Geoffrion.

Geoffrion got the ball rolling in the first period when he was left alone in front of the net and took a nice feed from Craig Smith that he snuck past Anchorage goalie Bryce Christianson. Fellow senior Michael Davies added to his team leading point total by sniping Christianson high glove side late in the period after he received a beautiful pass on a 2 on 1 with Derek Stepan.

Back to back Anchorage goals tied the game at two. The first came on a puck that deflected off Blake Geoffrion and into the net. Trevor Hunt got credit on the goal. The second goal was a mis-play by Scott Gudmandson behind the net. He reacted late and tried to play the puck but had it stolen off his stick from Tyler Currier. The puck bounced out front and Curtis Leinweber tucked it into the empty net before John Ramage could make a play on it.

The Badgers would turn up the intensity immediately after the Anchorage goal. Derek Stepan who is a better facilitator than shooter tickled the twine late in the second on the power play after a beautiful toe drag around an Anchorage player. His short side goal was his ninth of the season. Justin Schultz would add another power play tally before the period was over when he got his own rebound and depoited it in the back of the net.

Senior Aaron Bendickson took things into his own hands in the third period when he scored back to back goals within :12 seconds of each other. The goals were Bendickson's 10th and 11th goals of the season. Bendickson has really picked up his play and has turned himself from just a solid defensive forward into an offensive threat from the third line. A very under appreciated player, Aaron Bendickson would be my choice for the Jim Santulli 7th Man Award. The award is presented to the "UW men's hockey player you think gives his all on the ice and best represents the Badger trademarks of team spirit and good sportsmanship." Click here to vote.

The scoring would be capped when Blake Geoffrion tipped in a Brendan Smith shot with 1:22 left in the period. Smith ended up with three assists in the contest including assists on both power play tallies. Smith looked great all night and was really playing with an edge. Even though he didn't score he was a threat any time he was around the puck. Great performance by Smitty tonight.

Scotty Gudmandson played on of the better games I've seen him play since he's been a Badger tonight. The first goal he gave up was re-directed by a Badger and the second came when he mis-played a puck behind the net. So he stopped every clear shot on goal and looked confident in doing so. He wasn't fighting the puck like he has in the past. He was challenging shooters and showed that he can be the man in crunch time. Lets hope he keeps it up.

It looked like the Badgers made a switch with the lines in the third period. Andy Bohmbach moved up and took Patrick Johnson's spot on the third line and Johnson moved back to the fourth. Ironically, this happened shortly after I saw Johnson have one of the best shifts in a while. I rag on him a lot, but he had one nice shift where he had a great hit behind the net on an Anchorage defenseman and played the rest of the shift with a little swagger. Regardless, this move is LONG over-due. It's not going to happen but I'm still pushing for Podge to get back in the lineup.

Denver swept Tech so Wisconsin will play in the semi-final on Friday afternoon between the #2 and #3 seeds. If St. Cloud wins tomorrow in their game against Minneosta State, we'll play them. If St. Cloud loses, and North Dakota beats Minnesota, we'll play the Sioux Friday afternoon. If St. Cloud and North Dakota lose tomorrow, we'll play the winner of tomorrows game between Colorado College and Minnesota-Duluth.

Scores from the WCHA Saturday Night:
Minnesota 4, North Dakota 2-Game 3 Sunday night 7 PM
Colorado College 5, Minnesota Duluth 3-Game 3 Sunday night 7 PM
St. Cloud 3, Minnesota State 2-Game 3 Sunday night 7 PM
Denver 4, Michigan Tech 2

Photo by Redheat15

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