Denver Sweeps Wisconsin

Wisconsin hockey knew that the Badgers' season would be defined by the challenging opening five series of the season. With the Badgers off to an 0-4 start, its worst since the 1932-33 season, Wisconsin is struggling to find its mojo.

DENVER - Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves knows that sophomore Scott Gudmandson needs to play in high-octane games against high-quality opponents if he's going to be prepared to take over for senior goalie Shane Connelly this season.

Hopefully, his confidence will still be high at that point along with the rest of his teammates.

Playing three of the best teams in the country, all on the road, with a group filled with youth and inexperience certainly is taking its toll on Wisconsin and its record, as the Badgers fell 7-4 to the Denver Pioneers in game two of its WCHA opener. "We're not a very good team right now," UW coach Mike Eaves said. "For whatever reason, we've kind of hit rock bottom. And it's everyone."

Denver put the first mark on the scoreboard just over five minutes into the game, marking the first time Wisconsin did not score the first goal this season. J.P. Testwuide shot from just inside the left faceoff circles and found the net on the far side past sophomore Scott Gudmandson for the 1-0 lead.

Three minutes later, DU expanded the lead to 2-0. The Pioneers capitalized on a 3-on-2 rush when Kyle Ostrow snuck the puck past Gudmandson with a backhand.

Nearly two minutes later with just over 10 minutes left in the first period, the Pioneers found the net yet again on a rebound goal to increase their lead to 3-0.

Although UW trailed in goals at the end of the first period, the team seemed to be playing more cohesively and the Badger defense look more controlled that it has in previous games. Wisconsin also outshot Denver 14-13 in the first period.

Entering the second period, Wisconsin ramped up the intensity and created multiple scoring opportunities, but was unable to capitalize until over halfway through the period.

Just over 11 minutes into the second, junior Andy Bombach scored Wisconsin's first goal. Sophomore Sean Dolan set Bombach up for his close-range wrist shot that rifled past Marc Cheverie to set the score at 3-1.

A couple of minutes later with 6:43 left on the clock the Badgers narrowed Denver's lead to one. Sophomore Brendan Smith stuffed a slapshot into the net off a pass from sophomore Cody Goloubef.

UW continued its offensive streak in the second with a third goal at 16:06 into the second. Junior Blake Geoffrion redirected the puck into the net from a wide shot by junior Jamie McBain to tie the game at 3-3.

The Badger comeback was short-lived as Denver responded in less than 30 seconds with a quick goal to regain the lead. Rhett Rakhshani found the net from the high slot to put the Pioneers back up 4-3.

The Pioneers stretched their again lead 20 seconds later when a wide-open Luke Salazar hit the puck in off the post for the two-goal lead against Wisconsin.

Denver recaptured their former lead at 2:53 into the third period with a goal by Dustin Jackson, putting the Badgers back into their three-goal deficit from the first period.

Four minutes later, DU pulled away with another goal. The shorthanded goal expanded the Pioneers lead to four and set the scoreboard at 7-3.

With 6:41 left in the third period, sophomore Ryan McDonagh set the Pioneer lead back to three goals with a short-handed goal. Freshman Jordy Murray and McDonagh created a 2-on-0 rush from the DU blue line and found the net to bring the score to 7-4.

"(Scott has) got to work through this, too, just like everybody else," Eaves said.

Wisconsin returns to Madison for its home opener next weekend against border-rival Minnesota Friday and Saturday.

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