DULUTH, Minn. - After dropping the first game of the series, Wisconsin (15-8-3, 7-7-2) earned their revenge Saturday night with a 3-2 victory to earn a series split. The Badgers got out to an early 3-0 lead, and survived a late push from Minnesota Duluth (15-5-3, 10-4-2) to hold on for the one-goal win.
Wisconsin jumped on the board early, taking advantage of some open ice with the teams skating 4 aside after offsetting roughing penalties. Jake Gardiner intercepted the puck in the neutral zone, then dished to teammate Craig Smith, who fed defenseman Justin Schultz. Schultz fired a shot into the back of the net to give the Badgers a lead they never relinquished. Schultz’ 14th of the season came at 6:39 of the first period.
Later in the period, the Badgers extended the lead. Right after a UW power play ended, Podge Turnbull scored to make it 2-0. Turnbull scored on a tricking shot that found the five hole of UMD’s Kenny Reiter. The goal came at 11:50 of the first period.
Near the end of the first period, UMD’s Justin Falk received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind. The penalty carried over into the second period, when the Badgers would add to the lead. A strong first period finished with the Badgers holding a 16-5 lead in shots.
With the man advantage to start the second period, the Badgers capitalized and increased their lead. Craig Smith scored for the Badgers just 55 seconds into the period, sniping a wrist shot into the short side corner for a 3-0 Wisconsin lead.
Wisconsin also got a break shortly after that. Mike Connolly had a shot for Minnesota Duluth that hit the post, and after review it was confirmed that the puck never crossed the goal line.
In a penalty filled game, the second period continued that trend when Mike Connolly received the second Duluth game misconduct of the day. That resulted in a five minute major that was followed by two more UMD penalties, giving the Badgers multiple 5-on-3 advantages. However, Wisconsin was unable to score again on the successive power plays.
The third period remained 3-0 until near the very end, with Wisconsin playing a defensive style that saw them record zero shots on goal in the period. In the final two minutes, UMD put two shots into the net, but the effort was too little, too late, as they were unable to tie the game.
At 18:01 of the third period, Joe Basaraba finally got the Bulldogs on the board, scoring a power play goal on a redirection. Then, at 19:35 of the period, UMD scored another goal with its goalie pulled and an extra attacker on the ice. Travis Oleksuk scored the goal, which drew the score to 3-2. After a tense final few seconds, the Badgers held on to preserve the victory.
Wisconsin out shot Minnesota Duluth 26-22 on the game. UW was 1-for-7 on the power play, while UMD went 1-for-6. For Wisconsin, Smith and Schultz each had a goal and an assist, while Gardiner added two assists.
Scott Gudmandson (Sherwood Park, Alberta) made 20 saves in the victory, improving his record to 11-7-1 this season. UMD’s Kenny Reiter took the loss, stopping 23 shots but falling to 9-3-3 on the year.