Men's hockey: top lines struggle

Colorado College's top two scorers notch one goal in weekend series; UW's top duo held scoreless

MADISON – It was not a good weekend to be playing at the Kohl Center as one of your team's leading scorers. Colorado College forwards Marty Sertich and Brett Sterling and Wisconsin forwards Robbie Earl and Joe Pavelski can attest to that, having factored very little into either Wisconsin's 5-1 win Friday or Colorado College's 2-1 win Saturday.

Sertich (58 points) and Sterling (53) are the top two scorers in the nation, with 50 goals and 61 assists between them. But they tallied just one point in their weekend series against the Badgers – Sterling's meaningless goal at the end of UW's 5-1 blowout victory Friday.

Earl leads Wisconsin with 17 goals and 36 points. Pavelski is second on the team in points (34) and leads the Badgers with 23 assists. Their line, which also includes captain Adam Burish, was held off the board completely through the course of the weekend.

Wisconsin countered Sertich and Sterling with the forward line of Ryan MacMurchy, Nick Licari and center Andrew Joudrey and defensemen Tom Gilbert and Jeff Likens. The Badgers' forward trio actually outscored the Sterling/ Sertich/Jimmy Kilpatrick line 3-0 at even strength Friday night and drew an even 0-0 with them Saturday.

"[Wisconsin] did a phenomenal job on those two [Sertich and Sterling]," CC coach Scott Owens said after Saturday's game. "It was the only way we could win without them scoring was a 2-1 game."

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves was pleased with his team's defensive performance against Sertich and Sterling, but those positive feelings were dampened tremendously by the Badgers' loss Saturday.

"Unfortunately had we been able to do what we did tonight and have even an average offensive night I think we might have been able to get points out of the night," Eaves said.

"It's good when you can shut down their top line to only one goal obviously, especially the leading scorers in the nation," Gilbert said. "But we need the offense to build off our defense."

The Badgers' offensive struggles, though, did not take away from the strong play of the MacMurchy/Joudrey/Licari line, which contributed quality shifts on each end of the ice throughout the weekend.

"All weekend they were pretty good for us," Eaves said. "‘Mac' had really good jump. Nick provides that spark and Andrew provides that balance in between there that he can be responsible with and without the puck.

"It was a pretty good weekend for them. They were given a task of keeping that line off the score sheet and keeping that to a minimum. They did a nice job. They did give up some chances. But part of their success was the fact they were able to play offense on that line, stay down on the offensive zone and wear them out down there. If you were to grade out that line you'd have to say they did the job this weekend."

Colorado College's entire defensive performance Saturday draws high marks, particularly the Tigers' play against Earl and Pavelski.

Since the host Badgers had the final shift change, CC was limited in how it could match up against Earl and Pavelski. But Owens said he tried to have the forward line of center Trevor Frischmon and wings Joey Crabb and Braydon Cox and the Brandon Straub/Mark Stuart defensive pair on the ice against Earl and Pavelski as often as possible.

"We tried to get some of our better players against them," Owens said. "We tried to take away Earl. If you give Earl time and space he's going to kill you. So we tried to as best as we could take away his time and space."

Earl had very limited freedom of movement this weekend; he had one shot on net Friday and four Saturday. Pavelski was held to one shot on goal Friday and three Saturday.

Colorado College did not yield many opportunities all weekend long, out-shooting the Badgers 71-49 in two games. Wisconsin capitalized on its chances in a big way Friday, with four goals on 10 shots in the third period leading to a rout. Saturday, though, the Tigers clamped down defensively, in part because they controlled the action so often offensively.

"We had the puck quite a bit tonight, I thought," Owens said. "We just did a pretty good job keeping them to the outside."

Badger Nation Top Stories