Wisconsin almost extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games Friday night. Ahead 3-1 with five minutes, eight seconds left to play, it was not a miraculous Minnesota State comeback that spoiled the Badgers' latest victory parade. Rather, the result of Friday's game was left undetermined after a 32-minute power outage suspended competition.
"I've never been a part of a hockey game where the lights have gone off," Badger senior forward Nick Licari said. "I grew up playing hockey in northern Minnesota and nothing crazy really happened. This takes the cake."
"(At a World Championship game) between Canada and the Russians there was a brawl, they turned the lights out to stop it," Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said. "That was pretty bizarre. I wasn't there—I heard about that, but this has to rank right up there—to have the lights go out, you can't see your hand in front of your face."
The game will be concluded at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, after which the Kohl Center ice will be resurfaced so that the series' regularly scheduled second game can take place.
"I've played a few double headers (in youth baseball) but this will be a little different," Badger forward Mark Heatley said. "I think we just have to separate it and focus first on finishing the last game and then focus ourselves on the next game."
"Logistically I have a couple concerns from the fact that it has to be the same lineup for the first five minutes and eight seconds and perhaps Rene (Bourque) will be ready to play tomorrow and, now, will he be allowed to go out for warm-ups," Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said. "The warm-up—because you can only have one warm-up."
Badger captain Rene Bourque, the team's leader with 10 assists, sat out Friday's game due to illness after practicing throughout the week. Bourque could dress for the second game Saturday if healthy, but it was unclear Friday evening whether officials would allow him to skate in Saturday evening's warm-up.
"Secondly, I have never had to tell a team how to prepare for a five-minute, eight-second period," Eaves said. "I suppose it is like overtime. You look at it like that."
UW officials announced Friday evening that fans with Saturday night tickets will be admitted to the Kohl Center for both the conclusion of Friday's game and Saturday's regularly scheduled contest. Fans who had tickets for Friday's contest can redeem their ticket stubs at the Kohl Center ticket office for a half-price ticket to any Badger hockey game this season as long as tickets are available.
Just moments before the power went out, Licari and Maverick defenseman Nate Metcalf had begun fighting behind the play. As the puck moved up ice, the well-lit Kohl Center plunged into pitch-black darkness. After about 10 seconds, the arena's auxiliary power generators kicked in, providing the arena with smatterings of dim light. Licari and Metcalf were still in a tussle and proceeded with their fight.
"We were kind of wrestling in the corner and the lights went on," Licari said. "I really had no idea what was going on. It wasn't really major, just kind of wrestling…no punches or anything, just kind of acting—nobody knew what was going on."
After the backup power went on, the arena's public address announcer asked fans to remain calm. Far from acting out, the 9,428 in attendance, particularly the students, appeared to have the most fun they had had all evening, as the UW band rang throughout the stadium.
"They will talk about it a long time, the kids loved it didn't they," Eaves said.
The outage, occurring at 9:08 p.m., affected the Kohl Center and some nearby homes and businesses. After 16 minutes without power, the officials decided to suspend the game until Saturday. At 9:40, the power went back on, providing light for the arena employees who had already begun deconstructing the ice for Saturday morning's men's basketball game.
"The right call was made," Eaves said. "We'll finish it tomorrow."
Before the lights went out, the Badgers were on the verge of moving to 9-0-4 in their last 13 games.
Wisconsin freshman defenseman Jeff Likens gave the Badgers a 2-1 lead at 8:06 in the second period with a slapshot from the top of the circle that beat Minnesota State goaltender Jon Volp to the far side.
Just moments before, Likens had spun in the slot and flung a wrist shot on net that trickled between Volp's legs, coming to a rest in the crease. Badger wing Mark Heatley had a shot at the puck, but Volp reached across and got his stick down alongside the puck. Heatley's timing was thrown off and he whiffed on the shot attempt, allowing Volp to recover and momentarily keep the score tied.
Likens, though, made no mistake with his next opportunity, taking a pass from freshman defenseman Ryan Suter from the opposite circle and firing his shot against the grain to beat Volp.
The goal brought life to a somewhat listless Badger team that had little offensive flow but had worked hard to create a mess in front of Volp on numerous occasions. Unofficially, the Badgers had peppered Volp with 34 shots by the time the power went out.
Wisconsin forwards Robbie Earl and Ryan MacMurchy combined to take advantage of one loose puck in the crease after sophomore defenseman Tom Gilbert fired a shot on net from the slot. The puck got past Volp and was trickling toward the crease when Earl skated in, slid to the ice and tapped the puck with the shaft of his stick. Volp nearly got his glove on it, but MacMurchy got the blade of his stick on the outside of Volp's glove, giving the puck all the extra momentum it needed to slide underneath Earl's legs and into the net.
Within thirty-six seconds of MacMurchy's goal, Gilbert and Wisconsin forward Jake Dowell were called for minor penalties, giving Minnesota State one-minute, 38-seconds on a five-on-three power play. The Badgers, though, killed both penalties, preserving the momentum.
A Wisconsin defensive zone turnover led to Maverick wing Shane Joseph's game-opening goal early in the first period.
Joseph took the puck from Likens between the point and the high slot, spun around, and put an innocent looking shot on net that appeared to take Wisconsin goalie Bernd Brückler by surprise. The puck slid along the ice and snuck inside the post to the gloveside to give Minnesota State a one-goal lead at the 1:15 in the opening frame.
The Mavericks very nearly took a two-goal lead just three minutes later when Joseph hit a post to Bruckler's blocker side.
The Badgers received a boost midway through the first period when Dowell won an offensive zone faceoff cleanly to defenseman Ryan Suter. Heatley deflected Suter's shot past Volp to tie the game 1-1.