Badgers just keep winning

Streaking men's hockey team pulls out 3-2 exhibition win over Latvian National team

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Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves seems to have a knack for international competition as his No. 7 Badgers defeated HC Riga 2000 of Latvia 3-2 in an exhibition at the Kohl Center Tuesday.

The Badgers received their goals from the trio of Nick Licari, Adam Burish and A.J. Degenhardt, who were promoted to the top line for this match. Each player finished with two points on the night.

"Yesterday (Eaves) pulled our group together and said ‘this is a chance for you guys to show us what you can do as our top line'," Burish said.

Burish tallied the go-ahead goal at 3:25 of the final period after converting on a one-timer from Licari. The goal provided Wisconsin with its first lead of the game and shifted momentum toward the home team.

Urged on by a sizeable, spirited fan base, Riga seized a 2-1 lead by the end of the first intermission largely off of errors from Wisconsin's freshman goaltender Brian Elliott. Veteran Grigorijs Pantelejevs scored the opening goal when his awkward, bouncing shot skipped through the rookie netminder's legs. After a tying goal from Degenhardt, Edgars Zaltkovskis' shot deflected off Elliott's glove and into the net, regaining the lead for the Latvians.

"It was definitely a less physical type of game, they're more up-tempo" Degenhardt said. "There wasn't much hitting out there tonight."

Riga controlled most of the second period and threatened to score on several occasions, outshooting the Badgers 12-4. Whatever deficiencies Elliott showed in the first, however, were erased in the second session.

"He gets full marks tonight," Eaves said. "He came in and apologized to his teammates (after the first period). He just needed to settle down … and play, and he did that. That shows a good sign of maturity."

His strong defensive effort continually thwarted Riga and paved the way for a goal from Licari at 16:04 in the second period. Licari received a textbook centering pass from Burish and beat Latvian goalie Edgars Masalskis to make it 2-2.

"We wanted to show coach, and show the other guys on the team, that we can be looked at to score goals and that we can be looked at to make big plays at big times," Burish said.

Licari and Masalskis (23 saves, three goals against) were named stars of the game.

Eaves now holds a 2-0 record versus international teams and is the only Badger coach who has won an exhibition against a European foe. Before his arrival behind the bench, UW was 0-20-2 in such games. 

The Badgers started the bottom half of their depth chart for this exhibition. Top players Rene Bourque, Ryan Suter, Dan Boeser and Ryan MacMurchy, among others, did not dress.

Score by period

123Final
Latvian National20 0 2
Wisconsin11 1 3

Shots on goal by period

123Final
Latvian National712 12 31
Wisconsin94 13 26

Scoring Summary

First Period

LN1:  Grigorijs Pantelejevs from Oleksandr Panchenko and Ronalds Ozolinsh at 4:32

UW1: A.J. Degenhardt from Joey McElroy and Jeff Likens at 12:52

LN2: Edgars Zaltovskis unassisted at 17:00

Second Period

UW2: Nick Licari from Adam Burish and Likens at 16:04

Third Period

UW3: Burish from Licari and Degenhardt at 3:25

Saves

LN: Edgars Masalskis(59:14), 23 (3 GA)

UW: Brian Elliott (60:00), 29 (2GA)


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