After trailing for most of the game, the Sioux battled to within one goal on two occasions in the third period. For however close they got, though, they could not get far enough and saw their last ditch attempts fail with two empty net goals from the Badgers.
"We've played well with leads late in the game, and again we were able to pull one out there," UW senior goalie Bernd Bruckler said.
Ross Carlson picked up two goals, one on the empty net, while Robbie Earl, Jake Dowell and Nick Licari each collected two points as No. 6 Wisconsin (7-3-0, 5-3-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) swept No. 5 North Dakota in Madison for the second straight year.
"The whole weekend was an opportunity of growth for us as a team," UW head coach Mike Eaves said. "And we took that opportunity by winning two games here at home against a quality team."
Bruckler put forth another dominating effort, most notably when denying the Sioux on all six of their power plays. The senior netminder managed his 34 saves in the face of a resurgent North Dakota offense, which rebounded from a poor Friday night and threatened the Badger defense on multiple occasions.
Philippe Lamoureux also rounded out a solid weekend for the Fighting Sioux (5-5-2, 3-4-1), amassing 22 saves and allowing three goals. Though unable to win out over the potent Badger offense, the freshman's bevy of impressive saves throughout the game kept his team from going completely under and may have separated him from the pack in North Dakota's goaltending controversy.
Travis Zajac, UND's leading scorer, put his team in a position to equalize by cutting the Badger lead to 3-2 with roughly two minutes left in the game. The Sioux subsequently pulled their goalie in favor of the extra skater, but were punished by Dowell and Carlson, each of whom managed an empty-netter in the final moments.
Carlson tallied the eventual game-winner at 13:59 of the third period off of a one-timer from Dowell. The play came less than a minute after North Dakota had pulled within one.
"The point of the game is to score goals," Earl said. "I think that's our biggest strength."
Chris Porter came through for the Fighting Sioux and gave his team their first goal against the Badgers in 113 minutes of play. Porter let loose a backhander from behind the net that deflected off the back of the UW goaltender's leg and into the net.
Despite upping their offensive pressure in the second by outshooting the Badgers 17-8, the Fighting Sioux failed to breach Bruckler for a fifth straight period and, conversely, saw their own deficit widen.
"That was the turning point of the game," Eaves said. "I think, in the second period, had [the Sioux] gotten a goal it could've turned the momentum around."
Earl provided the home team breathing room at 11:24 of the second period. UW's point leader took a centering pass from rookie defender Kyle Klubertanz and rifled it past Lamoureux's glove for the insurance goal and a 2-0 lead that would carry until the second intermission.
A slap shot from center by Joe Pavelski grabbed the hosts the first lead of the game midway through the opening period. The goal was the freshman's sixth of the year.
Next weekend the Badgers will hit the road and attempt to continue their winning streak in a series with Alaska-Anchorage.