In the third period this season, the Badgers have out scored their opponents 39 to 18 and have earned points in 10 of 28 games this season when they were either tied or trailed going into the final period.
This night would fall into such a category.
Struggling through two periods of hockey to generate offense, limit turnovers and get into an overall flow of the game, Wisconsin killed off a 5-on-3 penalty to begin the frame, parlaying that momentum into a goal by freshman Kyle Turris that would rank a nine on a degree of difficulty, escaping the John MacInnes Ice Arena with a 1-1 tie Friday night against Michigan Tech.
Already down 1-0 in the closing minutes of the second period, freshman Ryan McDonagh was whistled for high sticking at 19:22, only to be joined by defenseman Kyle Klubertanz 26 seconds later after the senior was whistled for holding.
Suddenly, Wisconsin (12-11,6 8-9-4 WCHA), trying to get into the locker room after a five-shot second period, had to find the will power to stop the Huskies (10-12-5, 6-9-4).
"I knew we were going to get a goal so I told myself just to keep it at one," UW goalie Shane Connelly said. "We're due for one. We had an empty net in the first period and two posts. If I gave up one on that 5-on-3, it was going to be tough for us to really come back because they were really defensive blocking shots.
"That was one of the most important penalty kills we had faced this year. We needed to do a job and it started with me."
Fortunately, the period on the scoreboard read lucky number three.
The Huskies only fired two shots on Connelly, as the Badgers repeatedly cleared the zone and watched the clock expire.
"It was going to be a big swing one way or the other, so we wanted to kill it and roll," senior Davis Drewiske said. "That's a lot of momentum you can kill 5-on-3 like that."
But the momentum the Badgers garnered was nearly taken away by Turris. Failing to cover his guy off the faceoff, Turris watched helplessly as Michigan Tech's Eric Kattelus went one-on-one with Connelly.
What happened next simply defined Wisconsin's evening. Connelly blocked Kattelus' shot with his glove, but was unable to corral the loose puck. Instead of falling on it, Connelly passed the puck off to Jamie McBain.
Eventually, the puck fell into the hands of Turris who skated between the two face off circles and fired a shot that found its way through the entire Michigan Tech defense and into the back of the goal.
"It seemed like the whole team was in front of the net and somehow, the puck had eyes," Turris said. "It's the way the game goes."
Afterwards, Connelly counted his lucky stars that the play did not go according to his plans.
"Thank God that I did not catch that puck," Connelly said. "If I would have gotten a whistle there, this is a totally different game with us scoring down the stretch. Looking back, it was one of those fortunate bounces where I made the save and didn't catch it. That's kind of how the night went."
UW coach Mike Eaves, on the other hand, though the whole sequence of events had a touch of irony for Mr. Turris.
"The guy that gave up the 2-on-1 was the guy that scored the goal," Eaves said. "As they say in basketball, he was watching the paint dry and luckily Shane made the save and he came back and made up for it. The gray hair that was popping out went back in."
Connelly's save was one of 19 the junior made on the night, helping keep the Badgers involved in the game.
"He can now make statements like that, which is the sign of a confident, young goaltender," Eaves said.
But other than Connelly's solid play, few things clicked for the Badgers.
Michigan Tech's lone scoring sequence started when Drewiske misplayed a puck behind the Wisconsin net, giving Connelly little time to react.
Wisconsin had three 5-on-3 power-play chances in the game, seven total power plays, and could only muster five shots.
And although Turris scored the only goal, the freshman could have easily had a hat trick, failing to convert on a wide-open net and having a second shot deflect off the post.
"He feels real bad in there because he knew he had missed opportunities and those are things would have made a difference tonight," Eaves said. "He had some real good looks tonight."
Still all things considered, the Badgers pulled plenty of learning experiences from game one in Houghton.
"We can go to that and pull valuable experience from that," Eaves said. "We'll go back and break down video and reinforce some things that we can do better at tomorrow."