Quick Stick, Quick Wit

Behind 30 saves from junior goalie Shane Connelly and a goal and assist from Patrick Johnson, No.16 Wisconsin storms back from a two-goal deficit to tie No.17 Minnesota.

MADISON – With hockey blood lines running deep throughout his family tree, freshman Patrick Johnson has all the makings of becoming a great player for the University of Wisconsin.

But the way he created Wisconsin's second goal was nothing short of a miracle on ice.

With father and Badger great Mark Johnson watching from the stands, Patrick quick stick scored the Badgers' first goal and his quick wit helped score his team's second goal, as No.16 Wisconsin scored the final two goals of the game to steal a 2-2 tie from No.17 Minnesota Saturday night.

With Wisconsin (11-10-5, 7-8-3 WCHA) already cutting the Gopher lead in half entering the third period, the Badgers were trying to generate any type of offensive firepower that they could muster, as Minnesota was, at times, out skating the home team.

"Without question they out played us at times tonight," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves admitted.

But with the success Wisconsin has had in the third period, outscoring opponents 37-18 in the final frame, and the hard luck the Gophers have stumbled on in the same frame, it was only fitting that a crazy goal capped a traditionally physical weekend.

With the puck sliding out toward the neutral zone, Johnson quickly got to puck, spun and fired the puck toward Minnesota goalie Alex Kangas. With an unsuspecting Aaron Bendickson screening Kangas in front of the net, Johnson's shot nicked Bendickson's stick, deflecting the puck just enough to get past Kangas.

"I was just in the front giving a little screen," Bendickson recalled. "I touched it a little bit, but it was a great play by Patty to get the puck to the net so quick. I was just in the right place at the right time."

The play would have never developed, however, if it wasn't for defenseman Jamie McBain. Battling with Minnesota forward Jay Barriball for the loose puck, Davies forced Barriball to use his foot to try and kick the puck out of the zone, which helped the puck in the Minnesota zone and give Johnson a chance.

"It was like a tug-o-war, who was going to gain possession of the puck," Eaves said. "Patrick moved his feet, supported the puck and we had been talking about getting pucks on net and he just did that. It was a classic one-on-one battle that we happened to win."

The tie gives both teams a needed boost heading into their final 10 games with Minnesota (12-11-5, 6-9-3 WCHA) in sole possession of fifth place and the Badgers in a tie for fourth-place with Minnesota-Duluth, who travel to Madison next weekend.

"The point (tonight) puts us in position to be tied with (Duluth) and the big picture getting three out of four points, our task this second half is to get as points as many as we can every weekend," Eaves said. "I am really proud of the kids, because I don't think we were at our peak tonight."

After a sluggish first period and seeing the Gophers jump out to a two-goal lead, the Badgers finally gave the sell-out home crowd something to cheer about and extinguish some of their power play woes. With Justin Bostrom in the box for cross checking, the Badgers, with a little luck, cut the deficit in half.

With sophomore Jamie McBain and freshman Podge Turnbull threading two cross ice passes through heavy traffic, freshman Patrick Johnson fired a one timer that snuck through the five hole of Minnesota goalie Alex Kangas for his sixth goal of the season, setting the stage for the Badgers tying goal a period later.

"We have a saying on the bench ‘bend then don't break,'" Eaves said. "Like that willow tree in the wind, we don't want to have bend very far that we snap off. We didn't do as good of job shutting them down quicker, but the fact is we didn't get them as much as we could of because we bent, but did not break."

Overtime was not without its fair share of fireworks either.

UW's Shane Connelly had to kick away a shot off the stick of Mike Hoeffel that nearly crossed the goal line and Kangas used every bit of the goal to protect the tie, as three Badger shots missed the back of the net by inches.

After stopping 22 shots last night, Connelly was peppered early, giving up two goals he probably wished he could have back. But instead of getting down on himself, Connelly recollected his thoughts and went on to stop 30 shots while his offense rallied behind him.

"After we went down 2-0, I had a moment to myself and I told myself that it can't go any further," Connelly said. "I told myself that two was enough and I took it upon myself from the back end to really shut the door. If we kept it at 2-0, I knew it would give my teammates a chance to start chipping away."

With their three points over their border rival, the Badgers are now have a five-game unbeaten streak, their longest such streak of the year. More importantly, the players inside the Wisconsin locker can feel its confidence growing.

"Everyone believes in each other," Connelly said. "We all know that our backs are up against the wall to get into the tournament. We are all going to count on each other, step up and build on that integrity that we have in each other."

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