Jukebox Keeps Playing Same Old Song

Sophomore Ben Street got out of his scoring slump, but the rest of his team couldn't follow suit as Wisconsin's record fell to 4-8-2 despite another fine outing by goalie Brian Elliott.

MINNEAPOLIS – "It's like a broken record."

Nobody put it more frankly than UW goaltender Brian Elliott Sunday night.

Once again, he surrendered just two goals. Once again, the Badger offense was stymied. And once again, Wisconsin lost.

The Minnesota Gophers capped off a weekend sweep of the Badgers with a 3-1 victory. The defending national champions have now lost five straight contests and seven of their last eight.

"These things that you go through, they never turn themselves quickly," UW head coach Mike Eaves said. "It's like a big ship in the ocean, it takes time to bring it around."

But this latest stretch has many Badger faithful hoping that the ship is not taking on water.

For a few brief moments, it looked like Wisconsin had caught the break that it so badly needed to get the ball rolling.

Sophomore center Ben Street found the back of the net late in the second period when his centering pass attempt deflected off a defenseman, ricocheted off netminder Jeff Frazee and into the goal.

Street's second of the year gave the Badgers a 1-0 lead that even Minnesota head coach Don Lucia thought might hold up.

But he rallied his troops in the second intermission and they responded by killing nearly four consecutive minutes of penalties to open the third frame before scoring three goals in the final 16 minutes.

Minnesota sophomore Ryan Stoa evened things up at 4:49 of the third. After his initial shot was blocked he followed the puck behind the net and was able to throw it off the back of Elliott's equipment, banking it into the goal.

The Gophers got another good bounce nearly 10 minutes later. Elliott stopped an initial shot by Minnesota and as it caromed through the air tried to catch it in his glove. But traffic built up around the net and the senior All-American was thrown off kilter.

Sprawled out in the crease, the puck settled near his skates and freshman Tony Lucia dove in to scoop it into the empty right side of the net.

"I think all the goals tonight was just the puck going to the net and taking bounces off legs and off feet and then finding an opening," Street said. "That was the way it went all night and they got a couple more bounces than we did. That's the way it goes, that's hockey."

That was all the Gophers would need, though Blake Wheeler pocketed an empty-net goal with 47 seconds left to stick a fork in the Badgers.

"We played a little better tonight, (but we're) still looking for that timely goal," Eaves said. "You go through these times in your life and you have to persevere through them to build some character."

It was not as if the Badgers didn't have their chances. In particular, with a little more than a minute remaining in the second period, they had a golden opportunity to double their lead.

Jake Dowell found a wide-open Michael Davies towards the right of the slot. But Frazee was there to deny Davies.

"We're getting chances, and he made a great save on that, there's not much that you can do," Street said.

"We'll take any goal, any time right now," Eaves said.

It was another heart-breaker for Elliott, who has surrendered more than two goals in a game just once in his past six outings.

Even Street, who hadn't scored in nearly a month, could not find much satisfaction.

"I would have much rather taken two points for our team," Street said.

While it will not officially go down as a one-goal loss, that is essentially what it was for the third straight game. During the five-game losing streak, UW has never lost by more than two goals.

"You've just got to stay persistent with it," Street said. "Sooner or later those things are going to even out."

Those things are going to need to even out sooner rather than later, however. With the loss, the Badgers are now 4-8-2 on the year and have just six league points through 10 WCHA games—good for a tie in seventh place, 10 points behind the Gophers.

Asked if he was positive that the Badgers could turn things around, Street responed: "I hope so, I guess. The hockey gods have got to even it out sooner or later."

Perhaps things will start evening out during some non-conference action. The Badgers will host Michigan State and Michigan in the College Hockey Showcase next weekend.


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