Boom Boom's left ankle goes Boom

With the Badgers up 3-0 toward the end of the second period, junior captain Blake Geoffrion landed awkwardly on his ankle and causing him to be in a serious amount of pain. Without their captain, the Badgers were a wreck in the third period and could be a mess for an extended time without their other captain.

MADISON — Obviously, things are really heating up for a resurgent University of Wisconsin men's hockey team that has continued a hot November streak (7-1-1 last month) into December with a 3-2 victory Friday night over No. 15 Alaska-Anchorage.

But the Badgers might be facing their largest bit of adversity since starting this season 0-6-1. There's a chance they've lost a captain to serious injury for the second time this season.

Already without senior Ben Street for the season, co-captain and junior forward Blake Geoffrion was in a great amount of pain after a second-period hit into the boards delivered by Seawolves forward Tyler Moir.

The Badgers excited the announced crowd of 12,268 with two goals 21 seconds apart to give Wisconsin a 3-0 lead late in the second frame. But that warm environment turned cold when Geoffrion was writhing on the ground, flipping over and over in obvious anguish holding his left leg.

He needed the assistance of two teammates and a team trainer to be helped off the ice and into the Wisconsin locker room.

UW coach Mike Eaves simply called Geoffrion "doubtful" for Saturday night's rematch, and wouldn't comment on the possibility of Geoffrion looking at a long-term absence. It was reported after the game that Geoffrion and freshman defender Jake Gardiner – who left after the first period – did not go to the hospital, a potentially good sign.

However, Eaves did refer to those two losses as "major injuries".

"The doctors have got to look at it, and see what the swelling is, all those types of things," Eaves said.

On a night where Wisconsin was probably fortunate to take a three-goal lead into the final period – both coaches admitted UAA was the stronger team 5-on-5, indicated by a 37-24 shot advantage – it was clear UW missed Geoffrion's and Gardiner's presence.

"Not only the guys that have been lost, but the way we were playing, we had a lead and we hadn't played the kind of hockey that we're capable of," Eaves said. "It was about focusing on trying to get ourselves to go back and play the way we were capable of, that was the message (after Geoffrion's injury)."

One piece of good fortune for the Badgers is the favorable schedule ahead. After the series finale tomorrow night, Wisconsin is off until the weekend after Christmas, play a non-conference series at home against Northern Michigan and don't return to WCHA play until Jan. 9 against these same Seawolves.

But in the short term, that doesn't help a UW team that would like to finish this flurry of conference games strong.

"The test gets even harder tomorrow night," Eaves said. "We're going to have to have guys step up, guys who have an opportunity to show what they can do."

Perhaps the third period could have been a preview of how much UW might miss Geoffrion if he misses significant time. The Seawolves only had a 13-11 shot advantage in the last 20 minutes (as opposed to 24-13 before then), but cashed in twice and had a few late charges to nearly tie the game if it wasn't for senior Shane Connelly.

"It was a different team without Blake," Eaves said. "He's our captain, he's a guy that carries the message … it was like flying a plane and we lost one of our engines, and we're trying to land the darn thing."

A nose-diving aircraft, a sinking ship … call it what you want, but you hate to have these terms linked to one of the hottest teams in the country.

But costly injuries to key leaders, especially those with the "C" on the shirt, might indicate stormy weather is ahead.

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