ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves admitted it’s tough to completely shut out St. Cloud. Rather, it’s important to limit them.
With a 2-1 win Friday at the National Hockey Center, the Badgers did just that.
St. Cloud got on the scoreboard first after taking advantage of a Wisconsin penalty for too many men on the ice, as Ryan Lasch put the Huskies up 1-0 at 4:03 into the first period. Garrett Roe passed to Andreas Nodl, who was playing just in front of the goal line to UW goalie Shane Connelly’s left. Nodl then quickly fired a pass through the crease to Lasch, who put the puck in the wide-open left side of the net. It was Lasch’s 22nd goal of the season.
“Our power play’s been pretty good for us,” St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko said.
That would be all the scoring the Huskies could muster, however, as it would be all Badgers from that point on.
With a penalty on the Huskies’ Nick Oslund carrying over from the end of the first period into the second, the Badgers’ Davis Drewiske used the man-advantage to notch things up at 1-1 just 17 seconds after intermission.
Drewiske took a pass from forward Michael Davies in the slot, hesitated, and fired a wrister through traffic that found its way past St. Cloud State goaltender Jase Weslosky. Davies and Jamie McBain recorded assists on Drewiske’s third goal of the season.
“We wanted to build on things we did in the first 20 minutes,” Eaves said. “We just were rewarded for something that we had started in the first period.”
Just a minute and one second later, Ben Street gave Wisconsin its first lead of the night. Davies took an initial backhand shot that was stopped by Weslosky, but Street batted the puck out of midair and into the open side of the goal. McBain and Davies were credited with helpers on the play, the second of the night for both.
“Wisconsin came out very controlled, a very methodical road game, played great defense,” St. Cloud head coach Bob Motzko said. “They came out desperate to play.”
It was Street’s 13th goal of the season and ended a seven game stretch without a goal.
“Those are the ones you love to get,” Street said of his goal. “It was a broken play, it went off their guy. I’ve hit so many posts and so many near-misses, so it’s nice to see one go in.”
St. Cloud’s Garrett Roe was ejected with five minutes remaining in the second period after a retaliation hit on Wisconsin’s John Mitchell.
Mitchell made an initial open-ice hit on Roe that sent him to the ground. Roe then got up, skated after Mitchell and shoved him into the boards. Mitchell’s head hit the boards on the play and he remained on the ice for a few minutes, but eventually got up under his own power.
“That’s a bad penalty,” Motzko said. “That’s a freshman selfish penalty.”
Roe was penalized two minutes for roughing, a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct, resulting in an ejection. The Badgers had a five-minute power play to finish out the period but couldn’t capitalize.
It looked as if the Badgers’ hard work was all for naught when St. Cloud appeared to tie things up with just 15.9 seconds remaining in the game. A shot from John Swanson hit the left inside pipe, crossed the crease, caromed off the right post and bounced out. The play was reviewed, but was ultimately ruled no goal.
“It just happened so fast, I heard ‘ding, ding, ding,’” Connelly said. “I didn’t see the play really happen, but I’m just glad it was the three dings and stayed out of the net.”
With the win, Wisconsin remains in fourth in the WCHA with 27 points, three ahead of St. Cloud State. Both teams will continue to fight for home ice advantage in the WCHA tournament and a possible NCAA berth when they return to the ice tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
“That’s a big win for Wisconsin,” Motzko said. “We’ve gotta respond. It’s playoff-type hockey.”