"I think it started with us being embarrassed last night," sophomore center Andrew Joudrey said. "We came out lackadaisical last night and being embarrassed in your own barn like that I think everybody on the team was a little fired up from last night. I think the biggest thing, though, was to play with intensity tonight. We kept the tempo, had our feet moving and we finished checks all night. I think everybody stayed focused and the intensity was raised."
Wisconsin had taken a 4-0 drubbing from Michigan State while Michigan (9-4-1) fell 5-1 to Minnesota. Saturday the 13,966 in attendance gave the Badgers a standing ovation as the clock wound down.
"It's not an exact science but there was an essence in their eyes that I'm sure was in both locker rooms because they were embarrassed last night," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said.
Both teams played an intense, physical first period, with the teams racking up a total of 12 penalty minutes in the first period alone. Wisconsin's defense held Michigan to only five shots on goal but Michigan junior goaltender Al Montoya stymied the Badgers' offense, stopping 12 shots, nine of which came on Wisconsin's power plays.
Two penalties on Michigan senior center David Moss and one on sophomore defenseman Jason Dest midway through the first period gave Wisconsin a five-minute power play, including two 5-on-3 opportunities when penalties overlapped. A relentless Montoya denied the Badgers, killing all three penalties.
Late in the first period, however, the Badgers broke the scoreless tie when junior wing Nick Licari's directed the puck to the top of the crease, where linemate sophomore Jake Dowell tapped it between Montoya's legs.
Michigan responded with a goal of its own as freshman center Chad Kolarik skated below the middle of the circle and shot the puck past Bruckler's leg for the equalizer at 18:41.
After weathering the Badgers' early storm and tying the game, Michigan received a golden chance to seize the momentum when UW junior right wing Ryan MacMurchy picked up a minor slashing penalty with less than a minute remaining in the first period. The Wolverines still had 76 seconds with the man advantage when the second session began, but it was Wisconsin that took command in that period.
"We didn't wilt," Eaves said. "We didn't wilt, we came up and had a great start to that period."
"Al Montoya gave us a chance in the first period," Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. "They had nine power-play shots in the first period…He was the difference in the first period. He gave us a chance. We got that goal back…We had a chance in the game. We just couldn't convert on our few chances and they did on theirs."
The Badgers protected the lead in the second period and then some with help from their special teams, adding a power play goal and a shorthanded goal.
On the power play, Wisconsin played a game of keep-away with Michigan, passing the puck from player to player along the perimeter before choosing to attack. After freshman forward Joe Pavelski cycled the puck from the point to the far circle for Jeff Likens, the sophomore defenseman quickly passed to the top of the crease, where junior wing Adam Burish pounced on it for UW's second goal at 11:10.
Six minutes later, Wisconsin padded its lead with a shorthanded goal. Wisconsin freshman defenseman Joe Piskula was on the tail end of a two-minute cross-checking penalty when Joudrey took a pass from MacMurchy, skated between the circles and fired it over Montoya's glove.
"I was embarrassed. The team was embarrassed and we knew that we could play a lot better than what we did last night," Dowell said. "Personally, I knew that I could also play a lot better than I did last night. I didn't want to go away from this weekend leaving anything out there or having any regrets, I think it was a lot of focus and a lot of intensity that everybody brought to the table tonight. That helped a lot."
In a match-up that pitted two of the NCAA's best goaltenders against each other, Montoya finished with 25 saves and three goals allowed while Wisconsin senior Bernd Bruckler had 23 saves and one goal allowed.
"It was a great college game," Eaves said. "It was really fantastic goaltending at both ends. It was physical, there was plays, the tempo. It had it all. It was good entertainment for the people that were here tonight."