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No.14 Wisconsin (22-12-7) and its improbable run aren’t done yet. Crushing Minnesota State (24-13-3), 7-2, Thursday and upending top-seed St. Cloud State (23-15-1), 4-1, Friday, Wisconsin won its 12th playoff championship, and first since 1998, with a 3-2 victory over Colorado College (18-19-5) Saturday night.
What’s the Impact
Even though Wisconsin beat two highly-ranked teams before the championship game, results from around the country made Saturday’s championship game a win-or-go-home scenario. The Badgers were sitting at 16th in the Pairwise Rankings, but teams outside the top 16 grabbed automatic bids. The only way UW was going to get in the NCAA tournament was if they won, and they did.
Who was the Weekend MVP
Named to the all-tournament team, sophomore goalie Joel Rumpel kept Wisconsin moving forward all weekend. He earned all three wins on the weekend, stopped 38 of 40 shots Thursday, stopped 30 of 31 shots Friday and made 19 of 21 saves Saturday. His stick save Friday night, where he lost control of his stick and it happened to stop a puck from going in a wide-open net, changed the entire complexion of the game.
Three Areas of Excitement
Kerdiles still on a Tear: Named the 2013 WCHA Final Five MVP, freshman Nic Kerdiles led the tournament with six points (three goals and three assists), and scored the game winner at 16:15 of the second period. Kerdiles now has points in 11 consecutive games (5-13=18), 15 of his last 16 games and 17 of his last 19 contests. His current scoring streak is the longest of the season for any Badger.
Points in the Barn: Scoring with 17 seconds left in the first period to start the scoring Saturday night, junior forward Tyler Barnes has five goals in his last four games and nine goals in his last 13 contests. He is second on UW with 15 goals.
Not Losing Hope: Fifteen of Wisconsin’s last 23 games have been decided by one goal or less and UW is 10-3-2 in those one-goal contests. After such a bad start to the season, credit to the poise of Wisconsin’s upperclassmen for never giving in.
Three Areas of Concern
Zero. Wisconsin is on a tear having gone 21-5-5 since Nov. 30 for a .732 winning percentage. The Badgers went from 1-7-2 and questions surrounding the direction of the program, and if head coach Mike Eaves should be fired, to back in the NCAA tournament.
“Everybody in the locker room deserves it. We worked our butts off all season. We fought through a lot of adversity with injuries and things going on in the beginning of the season. These guys deserve it. We deserve it, and I am so happy it came out like this,” said Kerdiles.
This was be the sixth NCAA tournament in eight years under Head Coach Mike Eaves (Since 2002). The Badgers are 9-4-0 in the NCAA games under Eaves and have reached at least the regional final in four of the five appearances. The UW is officially 37-20-2 all-time in NCAA action. UW will find out its destination Sunday night, but could match-up against No.3 Mass-Lowell in Manchester, MA.