While he survived the first period by making some spectacular saves, the good vibes didn't last and the inexperienced showed.
The Wisconsin men's hockey team fell 1-5 to the fifth-ranked New Hampshire Wildcats this Saturday at a sold-out Whittemore Center.
UW opened the game with four shots on the net before the Wildcats even had a chance to handle the puck and continued to dominate offensively until three men were called off the ice with various penalties giving New Hampshire a five-on-three power play opportunity.
The Badger defensemen and sophomore goalkeeper Scott Gudmandson rode out the storm and managed to hold the Wildcats at bay throughout the power play until Wisconsin returned to full strength.
UW maintained a composed passing game early in the first period. The team seemed much more cohesive and controlled than it did in the frenzied bout against Boston College the night before.
The Badgers continued to rack up the penalties in the first period, giving New Hampshire copious power play chances to find the net. With two minutes left, Wisconsin gave the Wildcats their fifth power play of the game.
The first period ended in a scoreless tie. UW's offense looked strong throughout the period, and Gudmandson executed some great saves against UNH's forwards.
At 3:43 into the second period, Wisconsin posted the first number on the scoreboard for a 1-0 lead. Freshman Ryan McDonagh passed the puck up the ice where junior John Mitchell tapped it in. Sophomore Sean Dolan was credited with the second assistant on the play.
Three minutes later at 6:29 James van Riemsdyk tied the game for the Wildcats on a power play. The puck bounced off the back boards and over the goal straight to van Riemsdyk's feet, where he stuffed into an empty net.
New Hampshire obtained its first lead of the game less than thirty seconds later with a quick goal by Mike Sislo.
Confusion on UW's part contributed to the third Wildcat goal with one minute left in the second period. Gudmandson attempted to play the puck away from one UNH player and put it in Sislo's path, who scored his second goal of the game to put the Wildcats up 3-1.
"I didn't see the guy coming in, and I should have thrown it behind the net," Gudmandson said. "It's an awful feeling."
UNH picked up in the third period right where they left off in the second with a fourth goal at 1:47 into the period. Danny Collins slapped the puck into the upper corner with a wrist shot for the 4-1 lead.
Gudmandson made a great save with 15:26 left as the Badgers were caught on a change and UNH took the puck down the ice in a two-on-one rush.
The Wildcats continued to dominate the period into the 17th minute, when Peter LaBlanc hit the upper corner of the net with a wrist shot for the game's final tally.
"We've got to mature as a team," Eaves said. "That was one of our themes tonight, our maturity as a team. Learning to play in a rink like this, under adverse conditions, playing with a lot of power plays and penalty killings and learning to do those things. We know we have a young team, and we have to grow in that way."