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With both teams being whistled for a combined 21 penalties, 11 of which came in the second period alone, the Badgers and the Gophers lacked any flow Friday night in the ever-changing world of the WCHA.

MADISON — You know those Coors Light commercials where Jimmy Johnson spells something out? What's that he's talking about?

Like, in one word, what is the Western Collegiate Hockey Association severely lacking in its games this season?

"Flow. F-L-O-W."

Oh, that's right. Thanks, Jimmy.

Now how do you spell 21 penalties in one hockey game? M-A-D-D-E-N-I-N-G.

The 13,184 fans who came out to the Kohl Center for the University of Wisconsin men's hockey season opener saw the good, the bad, and the ugly Friday night.

The good: taking a 2-0 lead on hated rival and seventh-ranked Minnesota.

The bad: squandering that lead with a couple of jumping, bouncing pucks finding the net behind UW goaltender Shane Connelly, which kept Wisconsin waiting for its first victory of the season.

But the ugly is starting to rear its nasty head. The WCHA has informed its coaches and players that referees will be cracking down on certain penalties like hooking and holding, and the initial effects of this experiment has produced frustrating results for the 17 different players who spent time in the penalty box during a hard-fought 2-2 tie.

UW did score a power play goal on a 4-on-3 chance, when defenseman Brendan Smith found the top shelf midway through the second period to give Wisconsin a two-goal lead.

On most nights, a power play goal would raise a team's success rate on the season. But not Friday. A team's got to do better than that when it gets nine man-advantage opportunities, as Wisconsin did this night.

However, UW can definitely hang its hat on the other side of special teams. Minnesota had ten power plays in the game – that's nearly a period's worth spent defending your own zone down a man – and the Gophers couldn't connect on any of their 11 shots.

That'll take a toll on a guy like Connelly, who personally found a silver lining in the Badgers' conga line to the sin bin.

"It definitely wears on you a little bit, but it keeps me more in the game," Connelly said. "That's a lot of penalties to have to kill off, and after a while, it's going to run its toll. We have to change that, make sure (ten's) not an average we have every game."

Wisconsin had allowed six power play goals in its first four losses this season, so 0-for-10 – and 0-for-16 in its last two outings – has got to be a pleasant sight on the stat sheet for UW coach Mike Eaves, right?

"Well, we're getting a lot of repetitions in games, so you would hope that we would improve," Eaves said with a laugh. "No, we did some good things."

Clearly, it hasn't been just how many penalties are called. The rising and falling waves of calls are becoming an annoyance to coaches and players.

The night began auspiciously from a penalty standpoint, as there were only three infractions called in the first 20 minutes. After that, well…

"In the second period, it was different," UM coach Don Lucia said. "I'm not saying they called it different, I thought, oh, 2 to 1 (in penalties), okay, the teams are starting to get to it. Then the parade started."

Eaves was slightly more blunt, giving an answer that was heading in a irritated direction before catching himself.

"It reminded me a little bit of Denver, when we only had six penalties, I thought that we had got it, and then all of a sudden, they got really picky," Eaves said. "I think what's happening in some cases … well, you know what, I'm just going to back off and not say anything about the penalties and the referees, other than the fact that we've got to go through some growth spurts here, we need to look at video…

"It'll evolve, I believe it will."

Eaves cut himself short when he noticed a few reporters taking down notes on this developing statement, and probably felt like he should save himself a few bucks or a phone call from the commissioners' office.

But Eaves had earlier voiced his frustrations about the calls, and even harkened back to our good friend Jimmy Johnson in the process.

"Probably flow. The word flow comes to mind, and that is a direct result of the 21 penalties that we had," Eaves said. "It's not fun coaching the kids on the bench, there's no flow to the game right now."

Once the WCHA figures out how to call these games, and the players get fully adjusted to the new system, then finally this league will have more flow than a Coors Light vented can.


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