Jan. 24, 2010

Courtesy of Wisconsin Athletics

MADISON, Wis.--The No. 3 Wisconsin men's hockey team (14-6-4, 10-5-3 WCHA) topped No. 1 Denver (14-6-4, 10-4-4 WCHA) by a 4-3 margin Saturday night at the Kohl Center. The Badgers proved they were not content with another 3-3 tie, as senior forward Michael Davies (St. Louis) scored late in the third period to solidify the win in the crucial WCHA showdown. Davies also contributed an assist in the team's victory.

Unlike last night's game, the Badgers found the net first. At the 15:37 mark of the first, senior tri-captain Ben Street (Coquitlam, British Columbia) notched the game's first score. Junior tri-captain Ryan McDonagh (Arden Hills, Minn.) began the scoring sequence when he passed the puck to the corner to Davies. It did not take Davies long to find a wide open Street in the Pioneer defense. The assist was Davies' 100th career point as a Badger. His centering pass hit Street in stride, and Street fired a one-timer to give the Badgers the 1-0 lead heading into the second.

The Badgers were firing on all cylinders in the first period, outshooting Denver, 15-4, after one.

Denver managed to knot things back up just 2:32 into the second. On the power play, Pioneer defenseman Matt Donovan was able to find the net for Denver, tying it at one.

Less than thirty seconds later, Wisconsin took its lead back. Senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn.) brought the puck from the corner and skated with it towards the net. He snuck a pass through the Denver defense and found an uncovered Craig Smith (Madison, Wis.), who was positioned in the heart of the DU defense. Smith's quick shot soared to the back of the net, putting UW on top, 2-1. Sophomore forward Jordy Murray (Faribault, Minn.) had the secondary assist on the go-ahead goal.

The Badgers were not done in the second period, though, and neither was Murray. At the 13:35 mark of the frame, he cashed in his eighth goal of the season. Behind the net, Craig Smith handed the puck off to Murray. From there, he maneuvered the puck around to the front of the net. His backhanded, wrap-around shot slid under Denver goaltender Marc Cheverie's left leg and into the back of the net. Geoffrion also assisted on the score as the Badgers extended their lead to 3-1.

Denver got it back to a one-goal game at the 13:43 mark of the second. Senior forward Rhett Rakhshani found the net for the Pioneers, bringing the score to a 3-2 Wisconsin advantage.

The Badgers once again edged the Pioneers in shots-on-goal, 13-10, in the period.

Just less than seven minutes into the final period, Denver scored the equalizer. This time, senior forward Tyler Ruegsegger scored for the Pioneers on a power play after a tough, individual effort.

With just over six minutes to go in the game, Davies got ever-important career point 101. Right off of a face off, freshman defenseman Justin Schultz (West Kelowna, British Columbia) ripped a one-timer from just outside the right faceoff circle. Just to the left of the goal, Davies was there to misdirect the shot and punch it into the goal to put the Badgers up, 4-3, late in the final period. Sophomore forward Derek Stepan (Hastings, Minn.) began the sequence with his team-high 23rd assist on the season.

For the game, UW outshot DU, 38-33.

Badger goaltender Brett Bennett stopped 30 Pioneer shots, as his record climbed to 7-4-0 on the season. Pioneer goalie Marc Cheverie absorbed the loss by turning away 34 Badger attempts, as his record fell to 12-3-3 on the season.

The Badgers hit the road next weekend as they head north to battle No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth in a crucial conference series. The next time Wisconsin is back at home will be for the Culver's Camp Randall Hockey Classic on Feb. 6 against Michigan.