MADISON, Wis. – An offensive punch that Minnesota Duluth fashioned over a five-game unbeaten streak abandoned the Bulldogs at the worst time, the start of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s playoffs Friday night.
UMD did score the game’s first goal, then saw No. 14-ranked Wisconsin rally for a 3-1 victory in the opener of a best-of-three series before 8,228 fans at the Kohl Center.
That broke a 4-0-1 streak overall (when averaging 3.57 goals a game) and a 4-0-1 streak on Wisconsin’s home ice. And a power play that was clipping along at a 43.8 percent pace the past six games, was 0-for-3. UMD (14-18-5) is faced with having to win at 7:07 p.m. today or see its season end.
The Badgers (18-12-7) scored twice in the second period and clinched things with an empty-net goal with 21.6 seconds remaining as center Mark Zengerle had a goal and two assists.
“The first 10 minutes of the game (Wisconsin) gave it to us hard, our goal gave us a little life, but it was just tough to get things going,” said senior winger Dan DeLisle, who had UMD’s goal. “They clog the middle, they have four players back and we just have to fight through that. We have to get the puck deep. We have to get pucks to the net.
“It was just an all-right game for us. We’ve got better than that.”
Wisconsin had eight of the first nine shots on goal and yet couldn’t get past UMD junior goalie Aaron Crandall. DeLisle got hold of a puck wide open in the slot and slammed it past Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel 7:38 into the game for his third goal of the season. That inspired the Bulldogs briefly in outshooting Wisconsin 9-2 the rest of the first period.
The second period was all Wisconsin. Just five seconds into a 4-on-4 shift, after a faceoff in the Badger offensive zone, freshman winger Nic Kerdiles drove a shot from the mid-slot for his seventh goal of the season at 6:21.
Defenseman John Ramage launched an attempt from just a little further out, on a power play, to put Wisconsin ahead 2-1 with 4:29 remaining in the period.
“We’ve been playing playoff hockey since November, since we started 1-7-2. We know exactly what we have to do to win,” said Ramage, a senior.
Defense is the key ingredient for a team ranked second in the WCHA in allowing just 2.11 goals a game, led by Rumpel, who has a 1.90 goals-against average.
UMD hung around, stayed in the game, but rarely threatened Rumpel.
“We didn’t have any push-back to our game. I didn’t like the way we played,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We need to be smart with the puck and we gave it away too many times in the offensive zone. They were the stronger team.”
Sandelin had to do some line-juggling when winger Joe Basaraba, with three goals last weekend in a home sweep of Nebraska-Omaha, was sick and unable to play. UMD’s top two scorers, freshman linemates Austin Farley and Tony Cameranesi, were held without a point in their first trip to the Kohl Center.
Crandall came into the game with two straight shutouts, stretched that streak to 146 minutes and 21 seconds. He was solid in finishing with 30 saves as UMD was outshot 33-27.
“We talked all week long about how good (Wisconsin’s) defense is and that the games would probably be ugly,” said Crandall. “I can’t say that we played terribly, because we were right there to the end, but we got outshot, and that hasn’t happened much this season, and Wisconsin was more physical than we were.”
UMD pulled Crandall for an extra attacker with 2:01 remaining in the game, and had some tying chances, but Zengerle clinched the game with an empty-net goal. Wisconsin is 2-0-1 against UMD this season.
Minnesota Duluth……………. 1-0-0—1
First period — 1. UMD, Dan DeLisle 3 (Caleb Herbert, Mike Seidel), 7:38. Penalties — Adam Krause, UMD (elbowing), 10:23; DeLisle, UMD (roughing), 16:32; John Ramage, Wisconsin (cross-checking), 18:53.
Second period — 2. Wisconsin, Nic Kerdiles 7 (Mark Zengerle, John Ramage), 6:21 (4×4); 3. Wisconsin, Ramage 7 (Kerdiles, Zengerle), 15:31 (pp). Penalties — Herbert, UMD (high sticking), :59; Willie Corrin, UMD (roughing), 6:16; Brad Navin, Wisconsin (roughing), 6:16; Ryan Little, Wisconsin (interference), 9:07; Andy Welinski, UMD (holding), 14:14.
Third period — 4. Wisconsin, Zengerle 9 (Jake McCabe), 19:38. Penalties —Little, Wisconsin (boarding), 9:54.
Shots on goal — UMD 10-8-9—27, Wisconsin 10-13-10—33. Goalies —Aaron Crandall (4-6-2), UMD (33 shots-30 saves); Joel Rumpel (12-8-4), Wisconsin (27 shots-26 saves). Power plays — UMD 0-of-3, Wisconsin 1-of-3. Referees — Don Adam, Timm Walsh. Linesmen — Dan Carey, Ed Moberg. A — 8,228.