It was not a glowing debut by any means for University of Wisconsin rookie goalie Shane Connelly, but he and the Badgers escaped with a 6-5 exhibition win after a scare from the United States Under-18 Team.
Connelly was beaten twice in the first period and gave up three goals through the five-hole between the second and third periods. Thanks, however, to a five-goal third period from his teammates, Connelly earned a win in his first action between the pipes.
The U-18 Team came out on a mission, out-shooting the Badgers 13-5 in the opening 20 minutes and jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the process.
“They were more ready than we were,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “They were psyched, they were excited.”
“One thing about this group is they’re pretty fearless,” U-18 head coach John Hynes said. “They go in and they play, and they play to win. It doesn’t matter who they play they’re going to take it to them.”
Wisconsin returned with an increased vigor, out-shooting the U.S. team 20-3 in the second, but did not gain any ground as the Badgers were down 3-1 heading into the final stanza.
Then UW poured it on.
Two goals in the first 2:35 of the third period helped the Badgers climb back into the game, but they would not see a lead until there was less than a minute left in regulation.
Future Badger Blake Geoffrion put the U-18 back on top when he slipped one through Connelly’s legs, but Andrew Joudrey got his second tally of the night for UW to tie the game 4-4.
“I was pleased with the win,” Connelly said. “I thought [there was] some stuff I could’ve done a little bit better. I kind of went back to my old habits.”
The NTDP U-18 squad went up again with a goal at 13:14 of the third period, but again the Badgers answered back with a Tom Gilbert score.
Wisconsin finally got the lead with a power play goal from Joe Pavelski. The sophomore made a slick move between defenders, then pulled the puck across the front of the crease between the goalie and a blue-liner and beat U-18 goalie Joe Palmer with 56 ticks left on the clock.
The Badgers were 4-of-9 on the power play in the game, including a 3-for-6 effort in the third period.
Connelly finished with 19 saves, while Palmer had 45, including 40 in the final two periods.
Box Score (pdf)