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Men’s hockey salvages split with win over St. Cloud

first_imgAaron Bendickson assisted John Mitchell\’s game-winning goal at SCSU.[/media-credit]ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Perhaps nobody works harder to score goals than the fourth line on the Wisconsin men’s hockey team.Senior John Mitchell scored the game winner on a backhander in the second period while falling down and colliding with another player to help UW to a 4-1 win over St. Cloud State. The win salvaged a split for the Badgers, who lost 4-1 Friday night.Mitchell’s goal came after UW killed off almost nine consecutive minutes of penalties. Center Aaron Bendickson dropped a no-look pass into the slot as the 6-foot-5 forward crashed the net. Despite falling over after running into SCSU forward Ryan Lasch, Mitchell was able to slip the puck past Huskies goaltender Dan Dunn.“I remember, I just heard John coming behind me so I just threw it back to him,” Bendickson said. “He made a great play on the puck and found the back of the net.”“I just kind of moved it to my backhand, and knew the goaltender wouldn’t be ready for that shot and slid it five-hole,” Mitchell added.The goal proved to be a turning point in the game, as the Badgers played nearly the entire first half of that period on the penalty kill. The period started with both teams playing four-on-four, when UW’s Derek Stepan was called for hooking 1:29 into the period. Two seconds after that penalty ended, Cody Goloubef went to the box for tripping, and less than a minute after that penalty ended, Craig Smith earned a five-minute major for checking from behind.But the penalty kill provided momentum for the Badgers who were able to take the lead and never look back afterward.“Without question, that was the turning point of the game, critical moment, boiling point if you will, any one of those terms,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said.“Oh, absolutely. It’s huge… it’s something like, where they can capitalize on it, but if they don’t, especially after five minutes and we can keep wearing them out and not let them score,” Bendickson added. “We can just use that in our advantage and come off of that with a lot of energy and enthusiasm from the bench.”Brendan Smith put UW up 5:11 into the game, wristing a shot from the right circle over Dunn’s left shoulder on the power play. SCSU responded shortly afterward when David Eddy buried a perfect pass from Garrett Raboin into an open net, as UW goaltender Scott Gudmandson couldn’t get over in time.But even with 13 total minutes on the power play, the Huskies couldn’t find the back of the net again, and UW took over the second half of the game. Jordy Murray took a pass across the slot from Derek Lee and buried it to give the Badgers a two-goal cushion 8:59 into the third and Patrick Johnson got a gritty goal to get on the board as well.The win was sweet redemption for a UW team that outplayed SCSU in Friday night’s contest, but only scored once on 39 shots on goal. Despite the final, Wisconsin essentially lost a 2-1 game, as St. Cloud State got an empty net goal with 47 seconds left and a fluke goal with 21 seconds left.Despite the end result, Eaves was happy with the result because his team was getting chances to score.“I said to the boys after the game, we said to them as a staff, on the competitive side, I’m ticked off because we didn’t achieve what we had the possibilities to achieve,” he said. “On the other side, I could look at each one of you and you can look at each other in the eye and know that you busted your hump for each other and you left it all out there.“So from that standpoint, we can’t be that disappointed.”Wisconsin looked like it had a good chance to even the score late in the third period after SCSU’s Travis Novak went off for hooking with 5:16 to play. The Huskies cleared the puck and tried to get a change, but UW goaltender Brett Bennett sprinted up almost to his own blue line to pass the puck up. The Badgers were called offsides, even though they looked to have been on.“All I know is I looked down the wall, the young linesman was not on the blue line,” Eaves said. “And I went up to (referee Derek Shepherd) after and said, ‘You need to talk to that young man and educate him.’ That could be the play of the game.”“I don’t really know what happened there,” Bennett said. “It looked like our guys were out of the zone and I got it up.”Murray also looked to have had a chance in the second period, but SCSU goaltender Mike Lee just barely got the toe of his skate blade on the puck to deny the open net chance. Initially, it looked like Murray just missed the net.The Badgers rebounded nicely in earning the split though, especially in an arena they’ve traditionally played poorly in. For Bendickson, any time the team can win on the road is an especially meaningful victory.“It’s huge, it’s huge for us. Road wins are huge, absolutely,” he said. “It’s going to be great, it’s great for us going into next week. It sucks when you go off of a bad Saturday night and you have all week to think about that. It’s good, we’ve got to keep building, keep moving forward from there.”last_img

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