UW starts quick, tops No. 1 CC

Badgers score twice in 88 seconds to open game, junior goalie records first shutout of season

Junior goalie Brian Elliott has done a lot of things for the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team early on this season. He was 6-1-2 going into Saturday night's series finale with No. 1 Colorado College and hadn't given up more than two goals in a single game over his last 13 starts.

Saturday night, the Badgers gave a little something back to their netminder in the form of two goals in the first 88 seconds of the game and some good defense helping Elliott to a 3-0 shutout over the Tigers.

"All the guys played great," Elliott said. "Our breakups were great and they didn't spend any time in our zone."

Of course, give some credit to Elliott too, as he made 22 saves in notching his first shutout of the season. Elliott and the Badger defense were key in killing a 5-on-3 situation over the first 1:40 of the third period.

"It's a great feeling," Elliott said. "I've had chances all year, [but] little [goals] kept squeaking in."

With the win, No. 5 Wisconsin improved to 7-1-2 overall, 6-0-2 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play, and ran its undefeated streak to eight games. The top-ranked Tigers fell to 9-2-1, 4-1-1.

The Badgers performance came before a sellout crowd of 15,237 people, the earliest in a season the Kohl Center has ever been sold out for a men's hockey game. Previously it had sold out at earliest Jan. 15 in both 2000 and 2005.

After rallying for a tie Friday night, UW assistant captain Tom Gilbert talked about carrying momentum from the final 45 minutes of the game into Saturday night's finale. The Badgers did just about as much as they could with that momentum, scoring twice in the first 1:28.

Senior Adam Burish set the tone of the first period by scoring just 17 seconds after the opening face-off.

"They came out with unbelievable energy," Colorado College coach Scott Owens said. "We knew they were going to come out with that kind of intensity, but they kind of steam rolled us a bit."

Robbie Earl got the puck along the boards and found Burish in the left circle. The puck got lost in the senior's skates, but he spun around and swiped at the puck, shooting it past the right foot of unsuspecting Colorado College goalie Matt Zaba to give the Badgers a quick 1-0 lead.

The quick shot and goal was just the beginning of what turned out to be an offensive opening 20 minutes as the two teams combined for 27 shots.

"We were tremendous," UW head coach Mike Eaves said. "We really jumped on them right away, that was the difference in the game."

Junior Ross Carlson quickly made it 2-0 a little more than a minute later when he forced a turnover deep in his offensive zone.

Carlson challenged CC defenseman Jesse Stokke for the puck behind the net, poke-checking it away from him to the right side of the goal.

Carlson then lifted a backhand shot top-shelf over the shoulder of Zaba, who again appeared surprised to see a shot coming his way.

"It takes that pressure off. I didn't even get a shot until I don't know how many minutes into the game," Elliott said. "Being up 2-0 is great."

The second period followed Friday's trend as each team launched just six shots in a penalty-laden 20 minutes.

After swallowing his whistle for most of Friday's game—resulting in just 10 penalties in 65 minutes—referee Brad Albers whistled the two teams a combined 28 times for 81 minutes Saturday.

Colorado College had a golden opportunity to start the third period thanks to a few of those calls late in the second.

With Jack Skille already in the box for a five-minute major as a result of a head butt he laid on Marty Sertich, Nick Licari was called for a high stick as the horn sounded the end of the second period, giving the Tigers the 5-on-3 advantage for the opening 1:40 of the third stanza.

But while many teams—including perhaps some Badger teams of the past—would have been worried with the scenario, these Badgers were eager to come out and kill it off.

"[There] was a little excitement in [the locker room]," Elliott said. "We were happy to know that all we had to do is kill that off and we'd have the momentum going the rest of the third."

"It was more like ‘we get this done and then let's roll,'" Burish said. "You're up 2-0, but you're playing the No. 1 team in the country."

That attitude translated into great execution as the Badgers did indeed kill off the penalty.

"We had some chances on the 5-on-3," CC forward Brett Sterling said. "We just couldn't get anything by them tonight."

Joe Pavelski added a late power play goal to give Wisconsin its final tally of the game as they skated off with three league points on the weekend.

But while this series should be remembered as a marquee matchup that lived up to its billing, many may remember it for a late hit and post-game scuffle between the two teams.

Earl picked the puck up along the boards looking to skate out the final few seconds of play. Trailing him was CC forward Scott Thauwald, who may or may not have been planning to get one last hit on the Badger winger.

Thauwald didn't get the chance to do so, as Burish hit him with a blind-sided shoulder that sent him into the boards as the buzzer sounded to end the game.

"It was a bad hit. They need to take a look at it and review it, but I'm not going to say anything more than that," Sterling said. "It was a clean, physical series up until that last play."

The officials quickly separated the teams, but when they lined up to shake hands, hitting and shoving broke out and Albers and Co., along with the coaching staffs, had to break things up.

While the force of the hit did not appear to be heavy when looking at the replay, it was easy to see why the Tigers took exception as the hit came when the game was all but over and Thauwald never saw it coming.

The Tiger forward was playing in just his second game since returning from a knee injury that saw him miss 30 contests dating back to January.

"I guess all I want to say right now is I hope the kid's okay," Burish said. "I would never want to hurt anybody. I hope he's all right."

In the end, officials deemed the hit worthy of a five-minute major of excessive roughness. While that didn't matter since the game was over, the 10-minute disqualification penalty assessed means Burish will be forced out of the lineup for next Saturday's game with Minnesota State.

But when all the dust settled, Wisconsin had snagged valuable points, putting them three points ahead of second-place Minnesota and five ahead of CC in the WCHA standings.

The Badgers take on the Mavericks in a Saturday/Sunday series next weekend at the Kohl Center.

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