Gudmandson to the Rescue

With junior goalie Brett Bennett not making the trip, junior goalie Scott Gudmandson needed to come through for the Badgers. Credited with 31 saves Saturday night, Gudmandson helped the Badgers emerged with a 4-3 victory over No.3 North Dakota before a sellout crowd of 11,760, taking three of four points on the series

GRAND FORKS, N.D.- The Wisconsin men's hockey team (11-5-2, 8-4-2 WCHA) notched a one-goal victory against WCHA rival North Dakota (9-6-3, 6-6-2 WCHA) Saturday night in Grand Forks, N.D. Junior defenseman Brendan Smith shot in one goal and had one assist in the team's 4-3 victory to close out the team's 2009 games.

After UW killed a five-on-three, during which junior goaltender Scott Gudmandson stopped seven shots, the Fighting Sioux got on the board first at the 6:59 mark of the first period. Sophomore Brett Hextall scored on a top-shelf, wrist shot from just off the boards to put the Fighting Sioux up early, 1-0.

UND held a 12-0 shot advantage through the 9:28 mark, but at that point, senior forward Blake Geoffrion punched in his 14th goal of the season with the team's first shot of the game. The scoring sequence began when sophomore forward Derek Stepan stole the puck from a UND defender in his attempts to clear the puck. The puck made its way to freshman defenseman Justin Schultz. From there, Schultz fired a pass to junior defenseman Brendan Smith. He went cross-ice through the slot to Geoffrion, who slid the puck past the UND goaltender Brad Eidsness to knot the game at one.

North Dakota regained its lead at the 12:46 mark of the first. On a UND power play, senior Chris VandeVelde's slapshot misdirected off of a Badger defender's leg and slid past Badger goalie Scott Gudmandson. The score now favored the Fighting Sioux, 2-1.

The final seven minutes went scoreless, and the Fighting Sioux finished with a 17-3 edge in shots.

With 14:04 left in the second, senior forward Michael Davies cashed in his sixth goal of the year to tie the game at two. Stepan contributed his second assist of the game on the play. He found Davies behind the UND defense with a pass through the air. Davies made controlled the pass and charged Fighting Sioux goaltender Brad Eidsness on the breakaway. Davies' top-shelf wrist shot soared into the net, evening the score.

Less than three minutes later, the Badgers scored their second power-play goal of the game to take their first lead of the game. Senior tri-captain Ben Street punched in his sixth goal of the season on a short-side, top shelf score. Street took a pass from senior forward John Mitchell before the shot. The score now favored UW, 3-2.

And that is what the score would stay at heading into the final period. The Badgers scored the only two goals of the second period. Junior tri-captain Ryan McDonagh believes it was the team's simplicity on offense that allowed the Badgers to take the lead.

"We just got back to our simple plays. It's something we needed to do to get back into the game, and that's what we did. We had to get more shots off and push the tempo."

In the third, Wisconsin added to its lead with 6:51 remaining when Brendan Smith scored UW's third power-play goal of the night. Derek Stepan centered the puck from the board to Justin Schultz.

From there, he found a wide open Smith right outside the faceoff circle. Smith scorched a one-timer between the legs of Eidsness, giving the Badgers a 4-2 advantage late in the final period.

With 15.5 seconds remaining, North Dakota crept within one goal after Brett Hextall scored his second goal of the game for the Fighting Sioux. However, it was too little, too late for UND, as the Badgers went on to win this decisive WCHA showdown, 4-3.

Scott Gudmandson stopped 31 Fighting Sioux shots, as his record climbed to 5-2-2 in this crucial victory. Brad Eidsness absorbed the loss by stopping 20 Badger shots, as he saw his record fall to 8-5-2 on the season.

UW's power play went 3-for-8 in the game, while its penalty kill succeeded on 6-of-8 chances.

This was the final game the Badger men will play in 2009, as the team has a few weeks off from games. The Badgers get back onto the ice on Jan. 2 as the team squares off against Merrimack in the Badger Hockey Showdown in the Kohl Center. The game commences at 7 p.m. Yale meets Ferris State in the early game at 4 p.m.

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