Wisconsin has recently made a habit of coming back from two-goal deficits. Saturday night at the Kohl Center, though, it was No. 6 Colorado College who adopted this trend to force a second straight 2-2 tie, splitting the series.
"We've been behind two goals for such a long time that our emphasis was … to try and get a lead, and we did that," UW coach Mike Eaves said. "We just didn't execute in the third."
The game turned into a battle between two lines: the Tigers' potent first unit and, unexpectedly, the Badgers' fourth.
To counter the two goals worth of damage done by the Badgers' fourth unit in the first two periods, the Tigers (6-1-3, 3-1-2 WCHA) went to their top scoring line for the third. This unit's reputation as an elite third period force was quickly backed up by Joey Crabb's goal less than five minutes into the final session, and his equalizer with only one minute, 40 seconds remaining.
"They're a desperate team down two goals," Badger forward Pete Talafous said. "You have to expect them to come at you harder."
The tying goal came after CC defenseman Andrew Canzanello's slapshot went over the net. Tiger forward Marty Sertich took control behind Bruckler and quickly let off a backhand pass that found Crabb out front, setting him up for a top shelf shot that beat UW goalie Bernd Bruckler.
"We were embarrassed by the way we played in the second period," Colorado College coach Scott Owens said. "Then we got that first goal and started to get a little confidence and feel good about ourselves."
Sertich and Canzanello were credited with the assists on each goal.
Talafous, John Funk and Mark Heatley led Bucky on a 2-0 run through the second period. Going into tonight, Heatley's two points were all the production this line could boast for the season. By the final buzzer, they had collected an additional five.
"If you play well you're going to get your chance," Funk said. "And we got that chance tonight."
Whereas last night the Badgers (6-3-3, 3-2-3 WCHA) looked lost in the first period, on Saturday they seemed to know exactly where they were. Heatley gave the Badgers an early lead after taking the puck across the crease and dumping it past CC freshman goalie Matt Zaba for the first period's lone score.
Offense was not all that clicked for the Badgers in the first, however, as Bruckler showcased his talents in shutting down a Tiger power play, thwarting Colorado College's best scoring chance.
Things kept going the Badgers' way in the second period as their fourth line again put the puck in the net. An offensive assault from Heatley and Talafous resulted in Zaba losing track of the puck in the crease. Funk darted in and grabbed the loose puck, setting up an easy goal and a 2-0 lead.
"That's the way we'd like to play more often," Eaves said. "We want to dictate a little bit and get that early lead."
The Badgers are now on a national best eight game unbeaten streak (5-0-3) heading into next weekend's College Hockey Showcase, where they will face No. 7 Michigan and No. 14 Michigan State.
Score by period
Shots on goal by period
UW 1: Mark Heatley (2) from Pete Talafous (1) and Tom Sawatske (2) at 12:37.
UW 2: John Funk (1) from Andy Wozniewski (2) and Talafous (2) at 9:34.
CC 1: Joey Crabb (8) from Andrew Canzanello (4) and Marty Sertich (7) at 4:28.
CC 2: Crabb (9) from Sertich (8) and Canzanello (5) at 18:20.
Colorado College: Matt Zaba (65:00) 25
Wisconsin: Bernd Bruckler (65:00) 24