Men's hockey: Clicking on all cylinders

Badgers pummel Alaska-Anchorage 6-1 in WCHA home opener

The Badgers' effort — or lack thereof — was quite evident in last Friday's 2-2 tie at St. Cloud. No one on the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team was too shy to say that. But it is clear the Badgers learned their lesson.

A week later they came roaring out of the gates en route to a 6-1 win over Alaska-Anchorage Friday night at the Kohl Center.

Last week Wisconsin (3-1-1 overall, 2-0-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) was sluggish. This time the Badgers took it upon themselves to get things rolling and play with just as much, if not more, intensity than in last Saturday's 3-1 victory.

"I think a lot of it was we were pretty disappointed with last Friday's performance," senior Nick Licari said. "Coach got on us a little bit, and rightfully so. Tonight we took it upon ourselves to get ourselves going instead of having coach come in and get on us."

And get things going they did. The offense — which had struggled to score in its first two series — scored early and scored often against the Seawolves.

"I thought five-on-five, we got terribly outplayed. We didn't compete," UAA head coach Dave Shyiak said. "They won all the one-on-one battles. Physically they beat us up, they got the loose pucks."

The Badgers dominated the opening period, holding the puck in their offensive zone for the majority of the time, which quickly paid dividends.

Assistant captain Andrew Joudrey put Wisconsin on the board just three-and-a-half minutes into the game. Skating in two-on-two, freshman Ben Street took both UAA defenders with him, allowing Joudrey an open lane as he scored on a top-shelf wrister.

"That's as good as we've been coming out and dictating a first period," UW head coach Mike Eaves said.

Ross Carlson would double the lead three minutes later with a power play goal. Anchorage netminder John DeCaro saved a shot from Joe Pavelski but Carlson was their for the easy rebound.

"It was important to get a good start. We got it deep right away, got some good shots early and the crowd got into it," Pavelski said. "I think we just fed off that and were able to roll."

However, the Seawolves bounced back with a power play goal of their own late in the first period.

Wisconsin out-shot Anchorage 22-6 in the opening 20 minutes, but had just a one-goal lead.

But UAA did not steal the momentum; rather, the Badgers got it right back to start the second stanza. Pavelski notched his team-leading fourth tally of the year — another power play goal — just 34 seconds into the period.

"They came out and got us down 2-0 right away and kept going from there," Shyiak said. "We got back in it, and I'll take it even going into the second period down 2-1. Then they just took it over from there."

The Badgers, who had converted on just 6.9 percent of their power plays coming in, were 2-for-8 on the man-advantage Friday.

"We had to make adjustments over the course of the first period and I thought the kids did a real good job of that," Eaves said.

Licari got his first goal of the year 13 minutes into the period and the rout was on.

Robbie Earl notched his second goal of the year at 5:58 of the third period and Joudrey added his second of the game — a last-minute empty-netter — to close it out.

Wisconsin clearly showed what kind of team it can be with its play Friday, but the Badgers made it clear they are not satisfied.

"Until we do it consistently for a month, two months, then you know it's ingrained and part of who you are," Eaves said. "You saw the first period, if you could have that all the time that would be terrific."

"I think there were glimpses," Pavelski said. "We're still going to get better. There's definitely room for improvement."

Both teams put forth good efforts in the second games of their series last weekend — a victory for the Badgers over St. Cloud and a win for Anchorage over Alaska-Fairbanks.

But clearly the Badgers built on that effort, while the Seawolves took a step back.

"The first period was probably as good as we played, and then you take a look and include the whole game and we played to a little higher level than last Saturday night," Eaves said.

"It came down to competing," Shyiak said. "Our mistakes were because we lost all the one-on-one battles. We have 20 guys, and there's only seven or eight that gave us a decent effort tonight, but there's 13, 14 guys that … I thought they looked scared."

The challenge for Shyiak will be finding a way to turn things around heading into Saturday's series finale.

With momentum clearly on its side, Wisconsin will look for two more league points and a series sweep at the Kohl Center Saturday night. box score (pdf)

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