Matter of fact, the Badgers beat the WCHA's top goaltender, Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux of North Dakota, seven times in the first 40 minutes of play.
Problem is, only two of those pucks counted as goals.
Sure, UW defenders Jamie McBain and Cody Goloubef lit the lamp and gave the Badgers a 2-0 lead. On top of that, Lamoureux made some spectacular saves – stopping 28 shots before the second intermission – to keep UND close.
But Lamoureux was definitely the benefactor of some fortunate bounces early on.
"We got off to the start that we wanted," UW coach Mike Eaves said. "Had a 2-0 lead and hit about four posts, and couldn't get that next goal that maybe would have given us a little bit of a spread that might have been harder to come back from."
First, midway through the opening period, center Aaron Bendickson shoved the puck past Lamoureux and into the back of the cage during a scrum in the crease. But head referee Matt Shegos ruled that the play had been blown dead, so the goal was disallowed.
Then during furious action on the power play, center Kyle Turris pounded a slapshot that tucked under Lamoureux's pad, struck the left post and skidded across the goal line and out of harm's way.
Finally in the first period, Matt Ford received a beautiful crossing pass in front, but the puck bounced up and Ford couldn't get a solid shot off. Lamoureux recovered and got on top of the puck to stop play, but overhead replays showed that the puck was on its way slowly across the goal line before Sioxu defender Chad Genoway dove in and slapped it back into the crease.
"We've experienced that a few times this year, where we have chance after chance," said UW captain Davis Drewiske, as the Badgers and Fighting Sioux were scoreless after one period. "If you don't get rewarded eventually, I think that can be emotionally draining for a team."
But UW kept the pressure on into the second period, getting those two goals from Badger defensemen. Drewiske, another UW blue-liner, could have made matters worse for North Dakota if not for hitting both the right post and the crossbar on two shots during the period.
Then things cruelly fell apart for the Badgers, as the Fighting Sioux finally showed some offensive life in the third period and put the puck past UW goalie Shane Connelly twice in a 47-second span.
"At the time, going into the third period, I had no doubt in my mind that the guys were going to get the job done," Drewiske said. "You just have to give them all the credit."
Davies, McBain superb in tournament
Two Badgers were named to the Midwest Regional all-tournament team, and their play this weekend is something that should encourage UW fans for next season.
McBain and forward Michael Davies, both sophomores, played perhaps their best hockey of the season this weekend, and had UW held on against North Dakota would have been a good place to start when assigning credit.
"They were awesome," UW defenseman and assistant captain Kyle Klubertanz said. "They're going to have great futures, those two."
Davies keyed UW's 6-2 win over Denver on Saturday with a couple of goals, and though he didn't register a point against North Dakota – granted, Davies did have six shots on net – it was his offensive energy that helped Wisconsin control the first two periods.
"Davies was great for us," center and assistant captain Ben Street said. "He stepped up big-time, got a couple of big goals for us."
McBain also was very good, scoring a goal in each game despite entering NCAA play with just three goals.
Both McBain and Davies were highly touted freshmen in the 2006-07 season, but each had their ups and downs and struggled to live up to expectation.
They've come a long way, though; based on their performance this weekend and all season long, they'll both be looked at as primary leaders on the 2008-09 Badgers.
"It's tough coming in as a freshman and playing in this league," Street said. "Having a season under their belts, you can't look past that for why they had such a good year."
Lamoureux was named the All-Regional Most Outstanding Player, giving up just three goals on 82 shots. From the Fighting Sioux, he was joined on the Midwest Regional all-tournament team by forward Ryan Duncan (four goals in two games), center T.J. Oshie (four assists) and defenseman Chay Genoway (three points in UND's 5-1 win over Princeton)
The loss snaps Wisconsin's five-game NCAA tournament winning streak, which had been the longest current streak in the country
The Badgers won just two of their final eight games this season, and finished 16-17-7
UW came into Saturday's game 12-1-0 when leading after two periods
Freshman Kyle Turris earned one final point from an assist to McBain, improving to 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 35 games