Badgers advance at Showdown in shootout

Andrew Joudrey's sudden death goal and Brian Elliott's strong play in net put UW in holiday tournament title match

MADISON — Andrew Joudrey's sudden death shootout goal lifted No. 4 Wisconsin (13-5-1, 10-4-0 WCHA) to a 2-1 win over the Yale Bulldogs (1-11-1, 1-9-0 ECAC) Friday night at the Kohl Center. Although the game will enter into the record books as a tie due to NCAA regulations, the shootout goal allows Wisconsin to advance to the championship game of the Badger Hockey Showdown – to be played against Ferris State Saturday.

Second line Bulldog center Brad Mills and right winger Christian Jensen matched shootout goals with Badgers Matt Ford and Joe Pavelski to push sudden death. From there, Badger goalkeeper Brian Elliott managed to fend off Mills and first line center Jeff Hristovski before Joudrey knocked home the winning goal.

"I was kind of worried about my dad having a heart attack up in the stands – after the third shot I wanted to see if he was alright," Elliott mused. "It's a fun situation, and that's why we do it in practice. Shooters try to win but ultimately, as goalies, we put it on ourselves to win every time."

While the shootout made for an exciting finale, it couldn't mask the fact that the Badger offense failed to get on the board for over two-and-a-half periods against one of the most statistically dismal defenses in college hockey.

"After a great week of practice, I think we just thought it would come easy tonight," Joudrey said. "Plain and simple, we came out flat in the first period and they came out ready to play. I think we overlooked them."

Inaccurate passing marred the Badgers' offensive efforts for much of the game, affording a little bit of relief to the beleaguered Bulldog defense, which has allowed five or more goals in nine of 12 games this season.

On a night, however, where so many players struggled to find their game coming off a two week hiatus, Elliott shined between the pipes – registering 20 saves in his first start since the shutout loss to Michigan State Nov. 26. Despite allowing just one goal, however, the sophomore netminder was credited with a tie.

"I don't think he could have performed much better," Eaves said. "He had patience, he was big when he needed to be and he wasn't overreacting to pucks. [His play] was a bright star tonight, without question."

In the opening period, neither goalie saw much action as the two squads combined for 11 shots on goal.

Yale nearly got on the board in the closing minute as junior right winger Zach Mayer intercepted a pass at mid-ice and broke past the Badger blue line. With Wisconsin defensemen Tom Gilbert and Josh Engel in Mayer's rearview, sophomore keeper Brian Elliott made the one-on-one save to keep the game scoreless in the first period.

"It was a tough reality check in that first period because we were just so far behind in being able to make plays, and move our feet, and fake," Eaves said.

While the Badger offense continued to sputter in the second period, the defense picked up the slack. Wisconsin killed off two Yale power plays, allowing a single shot on goal while shorthanded, and limited the Bulldogs to four shots on net in the period overall. From the other end, the Yale blueliners also proved uncharacteristically steadfast, halting the Badgers on two power plays and allowing just eight shots on goal.

Near midpoint in the third period, both offenses began to apply pressure after almost 50 minutes of defensive hockey. Although each squad managed to double its shots on goal tally in the final period, for Wisconsin, the increase in opportunities could not brace the tide of frequent miscues.

"The fact is this is probably the type of performance we thought, realistically, we get as coaches," Eaves said. "The pace of being in a game situation and having to skate and think at a high level again was just [difficult]."

With 11:50 left in regulation, the Bulldogs finally drew blood as left winger Joe Zappala tapped in the rebound off an Elliott deflection. The goal was Zappela's fourth of the season to push the junior into sole possession of second place among the Bulldogs' leading scorers.

Two minutes later, Pavelski answered on the four-on-four with his eighth goal of the season off a feed from sophomore forward Robbie Earl.

"The defense was closing in so we didn't have that many shots on goal, we didn't test the defense that much," Pavelski said. "And it was just at the right time; I just had to shoot the puck."

In overtime, however, both offenses picked up exactly where they left off in the second period – struggling to establish an offensive rhythm. In the five-minute period, the Badgers and Bulldogs managed just one shot apiece.

"It was a night, for us, that hopefully we got a lot of rust off our game and are moving back to playing the way we're capable," Eaves said.

Wisconsin faced off Friday short the services of two major contributors – sophomore forward Jake Dowell and sophomore defenseman Jeff Likens – who are currently representing Team USA at the 2005 World Junior Championships in Grand Forks, N.D. and Thief River Falls, Minn. Forward Ross Carlson sat with a minor knee injury and is doubtful to play against Ferris State.

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