UW battles for 3-2 win

Badgers complete series sweep, hold on to first place in WCHA

MADISON – For all that can be said about the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, let it not be said that the conference lacks depth. Fifth-ranked Wisconsin were reminded of this again Saturday evening as they clawed out a 3-2 victory over the lowly rated Alaska-Anchorage to complete a season sweep in front of a sell-out crowd 15,237 fans at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers' nail-biting win came one day after a 6-1 trouncing of the Seawolves.

"(Alaska-Anchorage) played a much solider game," UW head coach Mike Eaves said. "As a result it was battle to the end."

Sophomore center Andrew Joudrey scored his sixth goal of the season to give Wisconsin (17-6-1 overall, 14-4-0 WCHA) a late game-winner, upping the team's winning streak to four games. Joudrey took a pass in front of the goal from junior wing Ryan MacMurchy and swept it under UAA freshman netminder Nathan Lawson's leg for the decisive score.

"We talked about being a championship caliber team and that's what championship caliber teams got to do, they have to fight through the games," Badger sophomore defenseman Jeff Likens said. "We did what we needed to do late in the game and got our energy going in the third period."

Only a day after routing the visitors 6-1, the Badgers found themselves routinely stymied by the Seawolves (7-11-2, 5-10-1). Despite the normally high-scoring Wisconsin offense holding an edge in shots (36-23) and scoring chances, the Badgers were forced to rely more on their defense and backup netminder Brian Elliott for the win.

"I'm sure that Wisconsin, after last night, probably thought that it wasn't going to be too difficult," UAA head coach John Hill said. "If I was in their shoes, I probably would have felt the same way."

WCHA Rookie of the Week Lawson rebounded from a disastrous Friday night and made 33 saves with three goals against. His efforts in between the pipes almost single-handedly kept Alaska-Anchorage in the game, as the Seawolves mustered little in terms of offense.

"I told the guys ‘You're going to have to score three if you want to beat Wisconsin,' and we couldn't get to three," Hill said.

Though the UAA attack was unable to seize the lead at any point, it did enough to keep pace with the Badgers for most of the game.

UAA freshman forward Eric Walsky tied the game at 2-2 at 7:06 of the third period by slipping a deflection past Elliott.

The Badgers had regained the lead a minute into the third with a score from junior forward Adam Burish, his second of the weekend. Wisconsin's captain crashed the net and appeared to barely edge the puck across the goal line, past an outstretched Lawson. After calling upstairs to confirm the puck crossed the line, the referees signaled that it was goal.

The Badgers and Seawolves kept an even pace and scored within a minute and a half of each other in the first period, taking a 1-1 draw into the first intermission.

The UW power play unit, ranked second in the nation, continued its impressive run with a goal on its first opportunity. Likens tallied the power play score, the fourth for Wisconsin this weekend. His goal also kept Wisconsin undefeated (13-0) in games when they score first.

Though it took senior forward Martin Stuchlik 54 minutes to get UAA its first goal on Friday, tonight the Czech winger put the puck in the back of the net at 9:51 of the first to get his team its opening score and tie the game.

Wisconsin is 11-1-0 in its last 12 conference games, but now enters a daunting stretch run that sees it on the road for eight of its remaining 12 contests. The Badgers are well aware that a mimic of tonight's performance will likely prove costly.

"We found a way to win when we weren't playing our best, that's a good thing," Eaves said about tonight's match. "Hopefully we learn our lesson."

With the series sweep Wisconsin maintained its slim lead in the WCHA standings. The Badgers have 28 points, two more than top-ranked Colorado College (20-3-1, 13-3-0) but the Tigers have played two fewer conference games than UW.

Next weekend the Badgers take a break from conference play for a series with Notre Dame. Game one takes place in South Bend, Ind. on Friday at 6:35 p.m., while the second leg will be held at Chicago's Allstate Arena Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

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