No. 6 Badgers (21-11-4 overall and 16-9-3 WCHA) fell into a third-place tie with Minnesota, but the Gophers, who beat Michigan Tech 5-0 Saturday, own the tiebreaker over UW after winning the schools' head-to-head series.
Before February, Wisconsin was poised to challenge for the MacNaughton Cup. But after beating Minnesota Feb. 4, the Badgers finished 1-5-3 in their final nine games, while doing battle with the top half of the WCHA: Minnesota, Denver, Colorado College, North Dakota and Duluth.
UW played a well-fought game Saturday, but could not stop UMD (15-15-6, 11-13-4), which scored three of its four goals in the second period.
Wisconsin opened the scoring in the second period, lighting the lamp just after the conclusion of a UW power play. Joe Pavelski scored the even-strength goal at 2:52 in the period on assists from Ryan MacMurchy and Tom Gilbert.
UMD did not wait long to answer, though, as Marco Peluso added the first of his two goals with a power-play tally at 8:04 in the second. Luke Stauffacher, a native of Sun Prairie, Wis., collected the assists on both of Peluso's goals.
Peluso scored his second goal of the night at 15:23 in the second period.
Wisconsin's Andrew Joudrey, though, tied the game up less than a minute later, with a power play goal of his own just 14 seconds into a Wisconsin power play, the score coming at 16:16 in the second.
Less than a minute later, though, UMD's Travis Gawryletz gave UMD the lead for good, with a tally at 17:08 in the second. The freshman also notched a goal last night in UMD's 2-2 tie with UW.
With Duluth up 3-2 heading into the third period, Tim Stapleton scored the Bulldogs' eventual game-winner at 7:18. Although Jake Dowell beat UMD netminder Isaac Reichmuth with just 3:51 left in the game for Wisconsin's third goal, the Badgers could not overcome the two-goal deficit.
UW netminder Bernd Bruckler left the ice for an extra skater with 1:30 remaining but the Badgers could not get the puck past Reichmuth.
In the net, Reichmuth and Bruckler finished with 28 saves apiece.
As the No. 4 seed in the WCHA playoffs, Wisconsin will host seventh-seed Alaska-Anchorage at the Alliant Energy Center next Friday and Saturday (and Sunday, if necessary) at 7:05 p.m. The Seawolves knocked Wisconsin out of the WCHA playoffs last season at the Kohl Center in a best-of-three first-round series.
Sixth-place UMD travels to the University of North Dakota for their first round series.