Unfortunately, the two-man disadvantage turned into an ugly trick for Wisconsin and a big treat for the Eagles.
Boston College left winger Nathan Gerbe beat a sluggish Badger defense and managed to get the puck over Badger goalie Brian Elliott's right shoulder for his first of two goals on the night as the Eagles sucked the momentum out of Wisconsin and shutout the Badgers 3-0 in Madison.
"It's been a long, long time [since I saw a 3-on-5 goal]," Boston College head coach Jerry York said. "That was quite an oddity, that's for sure. It was an outstanding effort by Nathan Gerbe, to cut back and wrist the shot."
With Boston College already down a man due to senior Joe Rooney's hooking penalty, Eagles defensivemen Mike Brennan was whistled for slashing just 27 seconds into the power play, leaving Boston College that near impossible task of killing off the revved up Badgers without two key veterans on the ice.
However, poor offensive execution and sluggish passing became the deathbed for Wisconsin all night long. Trying to set up a set play, the Badgers dumped the puck into the zone. Boston College goalie Cory Schneider corralled the puck and flung it to freshman Carl Sneep. In the meantime, Gerbe had snuck through the Badger defense and Sneep found him for a 2-on-1 break for the Eagles. Gerbe got the puck passed Elliott and the Eagles never looked back.
"It definitely turned the momentum of the game," Gerbe said. "I just shot threw the middle and Sneep banked it off the boards. It was a great play by him. I just collected it and stepped to the middle and shot real quick."
Wisconsin looked out-of-sync throughout the first period, only getting eight shots on Schneider and failing to fire any attempts on their two man advantage.
"Just because you have a five on three doesn't mean you can slack off," Elliott said. "They came out prepared and banging. That's a good team and another lesson learned for us tonight."
With Wisconsin coming out slacking in the first period for the seventh game in a row, the Badgers are still looking for answers as to why they can't get momentum on their side early in games.
"They were ready to play, plain and simple," UW captain Andrew Joudrey said. We've been home for three weeks in a row and you think we would have learned by now. They have good experience, but so do we. Shame on us for not playing better."
While the second period brought 14 shots from the Badgers, the Eagles' defense forced Wisconsin to take long range shots and Schneider was quickly there to pounce on the rebound. Schneider was all over the puck in the second period for the Eagles, including stopping a 2-on-1 break for Wisconsin late in the second, which proved to be the Badgers best scoring chance the entire game.
"They really came out hard in the second period," Schneider said. "They showed us what we had and we knew what was coming. We can't be surprised because they are a very good team. We just had to be on our toes a little more and we stepped up."
Any thought of a comeback were silenced late in the third when Gerbe struck again with help from senior Brian Boyle. Boyle acted as a decoy for Gerbe and drew two Wisconsin defensivemen from the play. Gerbe received the puck from senior Joe Rooney, who now leads the team with six assists, and buried it past Elliott at 17:44 in the third. Boston College capped the scoring when sophomore Brock Bradford scored on an empty net in the final minute to complete the scoring and the Eagles' shutout win.
But the early goal and the experience of Boston College were too much for the Badgers to overcome as they fail to win their third consecutive series opener.
"I thought [our experience advantage] helped us during the course of the game, especially our poise being down 5-on-3 early," York said. "That's a difficult situation to be put in considering their club and the atmosphere in the building. We weren't complaining or yelling at the referees. We just said kill the penalty … That's the sign of an experienced team."
The shutout was a big game for Schneider, whose numbers had taken a hit early on this season with the blowout against Notre Dame. Coming in with a 3.11 GAA and an 88.8 save percentage, Schneider never lost his composure, stopping all 28 Wisconsin shots and registering an assist, while never looking out of place all night.
"It's always fun playing against a premier goaltender like Brian," Schneider said. "You come into the night knowing that we aren't going to get more than one or two goals, and that makes me step up my play even more. I knew if I gave them up, that we probably weren't going to give them back. We were fortunate to get two good shots on him tonight."
"Both Mike and I realize that we have two of the premier goaltender in the last decade of college hockey," York said. "Both goalies are going to make our teams much, much better."
One of the big storylines coming into this weekend was the fact that this game was a rematch of last year's national championship game. Despite the notion that Boston College would be out looking for revenge just wasn't the case. Albeit a few scuffles broke out, but the Boston College locker room maintained that this was just another game on the schedule, and a game that can considerably help both teams.
"The rematch of that game has to be next April," York said. "If we can both have successful years and get back, then it's a rematch. This is just an early game that can help both clubs. We got some bounces of the puck tonight. I am not going to say anything different than that.
"When we play a Mike Eaves coached team, we understand how difficult it is to play against," York added. "They are always well-coached, physical and a difficult team to play against. I think we lifted up our game tonight. I thought we played very, very well."
Boston College's Gerbe agreed, saying what happened in the past is the past and that the Eagles know that Wisconsin will come ready to play on Saturday night, a night in which the Badgers have yet to lose a game all season long.
"They beat us fair and square in Milwaukee," Gerbe said. "They were a very good team, outplayed us and won fair and square and deserve that. It's a new season with two different teams that both lost players. They'll definitely be ready tomorrow. They have a good coach and they'll be ready."