Second-line Steals the Show

Wisconsin's second line of Ross Carlson, Michael Davies and Jake Dowell score six points for the Badgers as Wisconsin's 4-0 win moves Brian Elliott within a shutout of history and Mike Eaves into the 100 win club.

MADISON – Brian Elliott has been under the gun all season long. A year after turning in one of the most impressive seasons by any Wisconsin goaltender in team history, 2006-07 seemingly hasn't been Elliott's year. His save percentage and wins are down and he's allowed more goals than a year ago.

When asked if he's heard about people questioning his play this year, Elliott had a simple answer.

"No," he responded.

With Friday night's 4-0 Wisconsin victory in the books, the senior goaltender still prefers to let his performance on the ice do the talking.

After stopping 15 shots in the net, Elliott earned his fourth shutout of the season and 15th of his career for the Badgers (12-15-2, 9-11-1 WCHA). The shutout also moved him into a tie for second in career shutouts in WCHA history, moving him one behind former Colorado College goaltender Jeff Sanger. Not too bad for a goalie some people are saying is having an "off year" for Wisconsin.

"The only talk I have heard about Brian lately is that he's having an off year," Coach Mike Eaves said. "His numbers are still good and we don't take him for granted. He's like a pitcher in baseball who doesn't get any run support. We appreciate everything he's done for us."

Elliott even found a way to generate a point on offense, something he has done only one other time in his Wisconsin career.

With the power play about to expire, Elliott got the Badger offense moving by throwing the puck to forward Ben Street down the left boards. With center Matt Ford trailing down center ice, Street no-looked the pass to Ford, who lost his footing after tangling with an Anchorage defenseman.

That didn't stop Ford from scoring his seventh of the season, as he was able to get his stick on Street's pass to deflect the puck into the back of the net for the early Wisconsin lead.

Thanks to Elliott, the Badgers got on the scoreboard first and improved their record to 9-5-1 when they are the first to light the lamp.

"All the green jerseys were going off and the past couple games, we talked about if we see something like that to [go for it]," Elliott said. "You don't often see that happen but getting that first goal was really good."

Wisconsin continued adding to their lead with time winding down in the second. After being whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct for getting into a minor tussle with Seawolf center Jay Beagle, assistant captain Jake Dowell hurt Anchorage again, blasting the one-timer past goalie Jon Olthuis for the two-goal lead.

"The one thing we did more of tonight was that we were decisive and knew where we wanted to go [with the puck]," Eaves said. "That decisiveness helped us get those shots and finally start to take the game over [in the second period]."

Just over a minute later, Wisconsin's second-line struck again. Off a rocket shot from senior Ross Carlson, Olthuis was unable to snare the rebound, as the puck ricocheted off his glove and straight into the air. Crashing hard to the net, Davies casually lifted his stick, connected with the puck and watched it trickle right over Olthuis' left leg to give the Badgers another goal.

"I thought Ross was going to give it to me in the zone and I saw him wind up and take it," Davies said. "From there, I just got a jump on the blockers and was fortunate enough to get a piece of it."

Davies completed the Badgers scoring when he put in a Carlson rebound on Wisconsin's eighth power play of the night. For the game, Anchorage (11-15-3, 7-15-1 WCHA) was whistled for 12 penalties that resulted in 35 minutes in the box.

Throughout the second half of the season, the Badgers' offensive firepower was non-existent, as Wisconsin had scored over three goals only twice since the calendar turned.

Wisconsin's newly formed second line of seniors Ross Carlson and Dowell were paired up with highly-touted freshman Michael Davies to hopefully give the Badgers a spark against an Anchorage defense giving up 3.32 goals per game entering the night.

The move worked, as Wisconsin's second line produced six points – two Davies goals, a goal and assists from Dowell and two assists from Carlson - on the evening.

"Jake is a very physical guy that creates space and that compliments Ross who is a very offensive guy," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. "Mike prides himself on being an offensive guy [as well] and tonight was a great offensive night for him and his linemates."

The freshman forward, who had scored only one goal since November 24, was honored when he found out who his linemates were going to be on Friday night.

"Getting to play with the two best forwards on the team is an honor as a freshman," Davies said. "I just wanted to go there and play hockey with them."

The win also marked Eaves' 100th victory as head coach of the Wisconsin program. Eaves, who is in his fifth season, joins coaches Jeff Sauer (489 wins) and Bob Johnson (367) in the 100 win club. Although Eaves downplayed the accomplishment afterwards, the players saw fit to reward the coach that turned a program from a 13-23-4 campaign his rookie year to national champs in just five seasons.

"We always give a game puck out after the win to who we thought played the best," Dowell said. "Tonight, [captain] Andrew Joudrey gave the puck to coach and gave it to him to celebrate his 100th win. Everybody was excited but he wants us to be ready for tomorrow night."


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