Wisconsin has been setting and snapping streaks all season long.
The Badgers used three third-period goals to earn a key 4-2 win at Colorado College, snapping a three-game winless streak overall while tying a school record with a nine-game road unbeaten streak (7-0-2). Wisconsin also snapped a 10-game winless streak against the Tigers.
More importantly, the Badgers kept pace in what is turning out to a be an incredible race for the MacNaughton Cup. With the win, Wisconsin moved to 9-3-5 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, remaining in a third-place tie, three points off the pace.
The top four teams in the WCHA all won Friday, with North Dakota besting Minnesota 4-2 to move to 12-1-2 in conference play. Minnesota-Duluth, meanwhile, won its seventh consecutive game, 3-1 over Michigan Tech, to remain two points off the pace at 24. St. Cloud State remained tied with Wisconsin with 23 points after an 8-5 victory over Minnesota State.
Wisconsin did not play like a team in need of a win early against Colorado College, but snapped to action in time to gain the win. Oddly, the Badgers, who had scored just five goals in 104 shots during the 0-1-2 slide, picked up four goals on only 18 shots Friday.
"I give a lot of credit to the kids for just hanging around and we got better as the game went on," Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said.
Wisconsin struggled to find any offense for the first 40 minutes, taking just 11 shots and finding the net only once while Colorado College peppered Badger netminder Bernd Bruckler, who finished with 35 saves, 24 in the first two sessions.
"Without Bernd just keeping us there...he gave us time to get better and that's what happened," Eaves said.
"We didn't come out ready for this game," forward A.J. Degenhardt said. "We knew what we had to do. Tonight we didn't get many shots but we found ways to get them in."
The Badgers had been outshot just five times all season, but were more than doubled up on Friday, 37-18, and were outshot in each period. Wisconsin, though, rebounded from its sluggish start and survived a barrage of penalties, yielding power play goals in the first and third periods but killing four Colorado College power plays in the second period.
While the Tigers struggled with the advantage in the second frame, Wisconsin took advantage, tying the game at 1-1 with an extra attacker on the ice due to a delayed penalty call. Badger senior defenseman Dan Boeser notched the goal just more than three minutes into the period.
Wisconsin tied Colorado College 2-2 in each game of the teams' series on Badger home ice in November and looked like the same result would be in order again after UW freshman forward Ross Carlson and Tiger sophomore forward Marty Sertich exchanged goals early in the third period.
After nearly 11 minutes with the score knotted up, however, Degenhardt took a feed from fellow sophomore forward Adam Burish and beat Tiger goaltender Matt Zaba to make it 3-2 with less than five minutes remaining.
"I think a couple of their guys fell down and Burish got it and we ended up coming in on a 2-on-1," Degenhardt said. "He just passed it over to me and I wound up and put it shortside high and found the net."
Wisconsin held on defensively and senior wing Rene Bourque added an empty net goal at 19:11 to clinch it.
Score by period
Shots on goal by period
CC 1 - Brady Greco (3) from Marty Sertich (17) and Brandon Polich (3), PPG, at 7:54
UW 1 - Dan Boeser (6) from Ross Carlson (4) and Rene Bourque (16), EAG, at 3:19
CC 2 - Sertich (6) from Polich (4) and Andrew Canzanello (14), PPG, at 4:03
UW 3 - A.J. Degenhardt (5) from Adam Burish (9) at 15:02
UW 4 - Rene Bourque (9) from Burish (10), ENG, at 19:11
UW - Bernd Bruckler (59:55), 35 saves, 2 goals allowed
CC - Matt Zaba (59:06), 14, 3