Aside from being the lowest scoring game in the 36-year history of this rivalry, Friday's game marked the first time since 1982 that the Badgers shut out their nemeses from Grand Forks. The credit goes to UW netminder Bernd Bruckler—who looked like the preseason Western Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year for the first time all season—and his 23-save effort tonight.
Bruckler did it all for the Badgers: countered all that the deep North Dakota offense could throw his way, braved some hard hits from the Sioux when he ventured too far out of net and stood up to a last-ditch assault from the visitors after they pulled their goalie in the final minutes.
Aiding him in collecting his first shutout of the season was the young Wisconsin defense, which more than held its own against their opponents.
"I thought we let Bernd see the puck pretty well tonight," UW head coach Mike Eaves said. "We did some good things in front of him to help keep that 0."
After Ryan MacMurchy scored to give the Badgers (6-3-0, 4-3-0 WCHA) a lead at the halfway point of the game, momentum swung in the home team's favor and took some of the pressure off the senior goalkeeper. By the third period Wisconsin's best defense was a good offense, as their forwards blitzed the Sioux and garnered a 15-5 advantage in shots, consistently keeping the visitors from marshaling for a scoring run.
"Everybody showed up to play," Bruckler said.
Not all the accolades were reserved for Wisconsin's goalie, however, as North Dakota's freshman Philippe Lamoureux put forth an equally impressive effort between the pipes. Making only his third collegiate start, Lamoureux made 35 saves and held the nation's third best offense to their lowest output of the year.
"[Lamoureux's] a freshman … but he's played in some pressure situations," UND head coach Dave Hakstol said. "He's a pretty composed goaltender, regardless of what the atmosphere is."
Both teams' penalty kill units held down their respective forts for the game, especially in the opening minutes of the third period. The Fighting Sioux (5-4-2, 3-3-1 WCHA) killed off two minutes worth of a 5-on-3 Badger power play, while Wisconsin responded in kind, stymieing North Dakota's man advantage for nearly three minutes. Friday's game was the first time all season the Badger power play unit failed to score a goal. UW was 0-for-9 with the man-advantage.
Though in contrast to the high-scoring tradition of the Badger-Sioux rivalry, the first point was not tallied until the 10 minute mark of the second period. The point came when MacMurchy flipped a pass from defenseman Kyle Klubertanz over the goalie's outstretched glove, providing the lone score of the night.
"We got the intensity level we were expecting, but I was surprised it was a one-goal game," MacMurchy said.
Tensions flared at the close of the second session as a number of Badgers and Sioux started a brawl in response to a hit by North Dakota forward Rory McMahon on Bruckler, who left his crease to collect a loose puck in the corner. The melee resulted in four penalties, totaling 14 minutes.
North Dakota and Wisconsin wrap up their WCHA series Saturday night at 7:07.