Banner rises, players fall

first_imgBRYAN FAUST/Herald photoTo say the Wisconsin men’s hockey team’s (2-1-1, 1-1-0 WCHA) home opening weekend was a roller-coaster ride would be a drastic understatement. In a two-game series against WCHA rival and No. 5-ranked North Dakota (3-1-0, 1-1-0 WCHA) the Badgers unveiled the banner commemorating last year’s national championship, lost their best scorer to injury, lost in overtime, had a closed doors team meeting and won a 1-0 thriller Saturday night. All in all, UW captured two points in an emotionally charged two-game set.After a 3-2 overtime loss Friday, the Badgers had a team powwow Saturday to discuss among other things, the team’s leadership, which according to Eaves was lacking the previous night.”We talked about how we have something to prove because we felt embarrassed about [Friday] night, and that was what our meeting was about,” UW forward Jake Dowell said. “It was a real rude awakening in the meeting where coach called out certain people, and we watched people’s mistakes, and it was in our heads, but it obviously made people better, and guys stepped up their game.”Saturday, the Badgers were missing forward Jack Skille, forward Ross Carlson and defenseman Kyle Klubertanz, all of whom suffered injuries the night before. Knowing the Badgers were playing short-handed, Eaves simplified the game plan to a grind-it-out style of play. Despite being out-shot 27 to 19, the Badger defensemen were strong in front of UW goaltender Brian Elliott, keeping the shots to the perimeter and not allowing UND many quality scoring chances. But after a scoreless first period, it appeared as though the Sioux struck first at the 13:05 mark in the second. UND forward T.J Oshie’s shot deflected off Elliott’s glove before striking the crossbar, but the apparent goal was ruled to have not crossed the goal line after being reviewed.Dowell finally ended the stalemate with a rebound goal mid-way through the third period. After jarring the puck loose Dowell crashed the net and cleaned up a juicy rebound for the game’s only goal. “We have guys that have the ability to make the pretty plays and highlight real goals, but those plays aren’t as likely to work out,” Dowell said. “We have to play hard and get pucks on goal and guys to the net for rebounds, and that is how we’re going to win.”Elliott was impressive in the 13th shutout of his storied UW career, including a plethora of big saves after Philippe Lamoureux was pulled with one minute remaining in the game.Friday night the Badgers came out flat in the early going, due in large part to the emotional ceremony that preceded the game. A video montage and fireworks set the stage for the dramatic unveiling of the 2006 NCAA championship banner. When all the smoke had finally cleared, the Fighting Sioux proved the electric atmosphere was not going to affect their play as North Dakota outplayed and out shot the Badgers in the first period. “I thought we stood around and watched a lot in the first period, which is a byproduct of the ceremony and maybe a little North Dakota,” Eaves said. Matt Ford got things going in the second period for the Badgers with his first goal of the season after controlling a tough pass from freshman defenseman Jamie McBain. Ford found himself one-on-one with Lamoureux and beat him with a backhand shot over his left shoulder. The lead, however, did not last long, and UND needed less than five minutes to score two goals to take a 2-1 lead after two periods. With their backs against the wall the Badgers came out firing in the third period, and UW forward Jack Skille netted the equalizer at 4:14 into the period. “Well they had it early, and I thought we worked our way back into the game, and when Jack (Skille) scored that second goal we thought we were doing real good things. … We felt something good was going to happen,” Eaves said.Unfortunately for UW, only bad things occurred from that point on. After a third-period collision, Skille was lifted up holding his right arm and had to be helped off the ice by players and coaches. Eaves had little to say regarding the banged-up Badgers.”The injuries are such that we need to give them a few days to settle down and let the swelling down, so we can know how long they will be out.” Things got worse for UW in the extra session when freshman defenseman Jamie McBain whiffed on an attempted reversal pass leading to a scuffle in front of UW goaltender Brian Elliott. UND forward Darcy Zajac controlled his own rebound to score the game-winner.”When you have a three-on-one in front of your net in overtime, stuff like that goes, and we got to play tougher in front of our net and make plays in front of our net,” Elliott said.last_img read more