Self-Inflicted Wounds

After regaining its momentum with an early third-period goal to tie the score, No.17 Wisconsin couldn't overcome back-to-back five-minute majors, allowing Minnesota State to score the winning goal to end the two-game series with a split, beating the Badgers, 3-2, Saturday night.

MANKATO, Minn. - Fresh off its first shutout over the Minnesota State in the program's history and breaking a 0-4-2 winless road skid in the series, members of the Wisconsin hockey team were far from content, taking note that it was essential for the team to parlay momentum from its 6-0 series opening victory into the series finale.

With that mindset, it's no surprise that even a split in a challenging environment isn't going to sit well on the bus ride home.

The Badgers got a big third-period, power-play equalizer from Brendan Smith, but back-to-back five-minute majors was Wisconsin's undoing, as Zach Harrison scored the game-winner to break Minnesota State's three-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory before a crowd of 4,337 at the Verizon Wireless Center.

Mankato remains the only WCHA team the Badgers (1-2-1, 1-2-1 WCHA) have not swept on the road.

"Giving up consecutive fives, it's tough, especially when we had momentum going," said senior captain Blake Geoffrion, who added a goal and an assist. "It's tough to win a game when you have that going for you."

No.17 Wisconsin looked to be in good shape after stumbling in the second period, allowing Minnesota State (3-3-0, 1-3-0 WCHA) to score two goals to take the lead, when Geoffrion, UW's leader in road goals and points last season, made a behind-the-back pass to Smith for the wide-open goal to tie the score at two.

That was the last time UW had a grasp on the momentum.

It started when Craig Smith received a five-minute major for checking from behind and a 10-minute game disqualification, sending him to the locker room early at the seven-minute mark in the third period, giving Minnesota State an uninterrupted power play and forcing Smith to miss next Friday's game.

The Badgers killed off the first four minutes, 30 seconds of the major before junior Ryan McDonagh was whistled for another five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind, an unprecedented series of events that put UW back on the defensive.

"We shot ourselves in the foot in the end," Smith said. "I have never seen two five minutes in one period. That just gases you in the end."

"Never in my life have I seen it," UW coach Mike Eaves said, "and we deserved it."

The extra attacker allowed center Zach Harrison, who had assisted on Minnesota State's first two goals, to skip a puck past UW goalie Scott Gudmandson, who tried to clear the initial shot into the corner, at 12:22 for the game winner.

"I thought he played like a veteran tonight," Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting said of Harrison.

After UW averaged 19.7 penalty minutes in its first three games, the Badgers were whistled nine times for 40 minutes.

"In this game, you have to play hard and play intelligent and we didn't do that," Eaves said. "We put ourselves in a little precarious situation after tying it up."

Worse yet was the UW stat sheet and where UW didn't get contributions. No shots from senior captain Ben Street, none from Patrick Johnson, whose father, Mark, was in the building watching, and, for the third straight game, none from senior John Mitchell, who had 15 tallies a season ago, which was evident by the Badgers unable to convert a 6-on-4 in the final 50 seconds that sealed their fate.

"We have a bunch of guys that aren't shooting," Eaves said. "I don't think we came with the same fire that we did last night."

One player that is carrying the offense right now is Geoffrion. After scoring 10 power-play goals last season, becoming just the third Wisconsin player since the 1994-95 season to register double-digit goals on the power play, Geoffrion has already scored three in three games played this season, including his tally at 13:02 in the first period, getting UW on the board first.

A shot by Brendan Smith was rebounded to Geoffrion, who got the tally when his shot slid through the wickets of sophomore goalie Austin Lee (31 saves).

While junior goalie Brett Bennett seemed to never be far from his comfort zone in his 19-save shutout Friday, Gudmandson never seemed comfortable between the pipes, a factoid that gave MSU its first lead of the series.

MSU scored both of its second-period goals off rebounds that Gudmandson misplayed. The first tally at 2:55 occurred when Gudmandson came too far out on the initial shot to cut down an angle, but couldn't get back quick enough to stop sophomore Adam Mueller's attempt from the left post.

Nearly six minutes later, Gudmandson tried to block the initial shot with his stick and get his glove down to cease play, but freshman Eriah Hayes was there to hit in the futile attempt into the net.

Gudmandson finished with 24 saves, including denying a couple breakaway attempts, but admitted that it was an ‘average' performance.

"I felt like last Saturday, I played a much better game," Said Gudmandson, who made 31 stops against CC in the aforementioned game. "They came pretty hard after me, and it's something I have to adjust to."

Struggling to get the momentum that was present throughout his lines the night before, Eaves mixed up his four lines in hopes of finding some new-found chemistry.

It apparently worked late in the second when it appeared junior Podge Turnbull banged a rebound past Lee before play had been blown dead by official C.J. Beaurline. Despite pleading his case and Eaves having an extended chat during the second intermission with the official, UW was left empty handed.

"He (Beaurline) told me he was in the act of blowing the whistle and that's a rule," Eaves said. "If it's his intent to blow the whistle, the play is dead. Judgment call."

When it was pointed out that the puck was already in the net before the whistle blew, Eaves would only smile, a fitting smirk that signaled another unfulfilled weekend.

"It's disappointing because we didn't do the things we needed to do," Eaves said. "Our expectations are high and we didn't get things done we needed to do."

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