Wisconsin's offense was a couple notches short of spectacular in a three-point weekend in Minneapolis, scoring nine goals, going 3-for-10 on the power play and erasing two deficits to earn a tie one night after posting a 6-0 shutout.
That weekend had brilliance. Friday night had dreariness.
With a tenth-ranked North Dakota team playing a near mirror system to Wisconsin, the Fighting Sioux rocked the boat enough to get the Badgers' disjointed on the power play, out-of-sync offensively and create enough negative energy that engulfed the 13,601 in attendance.
"Everybody was on a different page," assistant captain Craig Smith said, "and we just weren't connecting like we (can)."
It would have gotten really ugly had goalie Scott Gudmandson not made a couple sprawling saves in the third period, but the senior couldn't stop everything, manly North Dakota's Jason Gregoire catching the Badgers in a shift change late in the third and firing a shot that beat Gudmandson low for the game's only tally, giving the Fighting Sioux a 1-0 victory Friday night.
With 10 freshmen on his roster, Wisconsin Coach Mike Eaves wanted to build up this weekend's tilt as a championship atmosphere, a hard-hitting game best deserving to be played in March than mid-November.
The smattering of boos at the conclusion of the second period were an indication that his team hasn't quite taken that step.
No.13 Wisconsin (6-3-2, 3-2-2 WCHA) had six power play chances and managed a disjointed five shots, including zero shots on two five-minute major penalties.
"I think everybody heard it," said Smith of the boo birds, as the Badgers saw their five-game unbeaten streak end. "We were more frustrated than they were."
The Badgers were held to only 16 shots for the first time since March 7, 2003, a product of getting little traffic at sophomore goalie Aaron Dell, so little in fact that Eaves couldn't put a number of his team's second chances, only saying they were ‘few and far between.'
"They didn't surprise us by what they did," Eaves said of North Dakota's penalty kill. "We didn't take what was given. We tried to force plays and as a result, the power play was probably a negative in terms of energy.
It also didn't help that Wisconsin lost junior forward Jordy Murray to a head injury in the second period on a hit that preceded one of North Dakota's major penalties. Murray, who leads the team with eight goals, was replaced by senior Patrick Johnson and will be re-evaluated Saturday morning.
"When things didn't go the way we wanted and get any energy off the power play, we started to press and go outside the box," Eaves said. "As a result, we started getting individualistic and you're not going to find the answers there."
The stifling on the penalty kill has been a new revelation for North Dakota (6-4-1, 5-2-0 WCHA) After allowing five power-play goals in a weekend sweep at Maine three weeks ago, the Fighting Sioux have killed off 18-for-19 (.947) over the last five games.
"Tonight was a good confidence booster for our core and for our goaltending," said UND senior Derrick LaPoint, who assisted on Gregoire's goal at 14:29 in the third period. "It's easy to get up when you are playing top-end talent."
With all the talented youth on Wisconsin's roster, consider this a page turner, especially when the book is still in the early stages of being written.
"You could definitely see guys were getting frustrated out there and doing things on their own," senior captain Sean Dolan said. "We just have to get back to basics and be ready to go by tomorrow."