Notes: Bennett Bottoms Out

Sticking with the theme of having each goalie play one night when they are both healthy, Wisconsin Coach Mike Eaves gives junior Brett Bennett a chance to make an impact and help UW sweep Minnesota Duluth. Bennett barely got a sweat going before he was pulled, putting the Badgers in a deep hole they never recovered from.

DULUTH, Minn. - Three minutes, 18 seconds.

That's all the time University of Wisconsin goaltender Brett Bennett got in Saturday's 4-0 loss to Minnesota-Duluth. Giving up two goals on just three shots, UW head coach Mike Eaves motioned to put in Scott Gudmandson as soon as the second UMD goal hit the back of the net.

To say Bennett never got settled in would be an understatement.

"[I] didn't even get started, I was out of there before I even knew what was really going on," he said. "Obviously I wasn't as prepared as I needed to be for tonight."

On the first shot on goal of the game for the Bulldogs, winger Justin Fontaine lined up a shot from the right wing that seemed to surprise Bennett, who was late dropping down.

The second came on a shot from the point by UMD defenseman Brady Lamb. The puck found its way through some traffic and over Bennett's left shoulder.

"The first one, he really looked surprised, he wasn't ready from it, from what [I saw]," Eaves said. "The second shot, I don't know if he was screened. We weren't going to wait around to see if he was going to get himself going, we had to make a change, and that's sometimes what a head coach has to do."

The situation was eerily similar to the Badgers' previous Saturday road game, where Gudmandson was pulled after giving up four goals in 14:27 of play to Colorado College. The Badgers would go on to lose 6-5, and against the Bulldogs, never even scored in the 4-0 loss.

For Bennett, the game proved an interesting theory he has about pregame warm-ups. Apparently the key is not to feel good.

"[I] felt great in warm-ups," he said. "That's funny how that works, usually when you feel good in warm-ups you have a [crap] game, when you feel like [crap] in warm-ups, you have a good game; it's weird how that works."

Saturday's shaky start by Bennett comes one week after he let in a couple of soft goals against Denver in a 4-3 win. He was sprawled on the ice for one, where DU's Rhett Rahkshani was able to simply skate around him to put the puck in. On the other, he was a little late in dropping down, allowing a shot from the right wing to go five-hole on him and off his leg into the net.

The season has been full of ups and downs for the junior transfer. He started the season as the No. 1 goaltender, winning the Friday night starting job until he went down with a left shoulder injury in early December.

Since then, whether it's from a lack of playing time (he missed four games before starting in an exhibition game against the U.S. U-18 team) or something else, he hasn't been able to replicate the success he experienced at the beginning of the season.

"It's been tough, I've got to get better, I've got to mentally prepare better," Bennett said. "I know I can play at this level, I know I can play better. I just have to show it, I have to come out and play better. [I] didn't give my team a chance to win tonight."

Penalties pile up

While Wisconsin shacked up at the Sheraton in downtown Duluth for the weekend, they probably spent more time on the trip in the DECC's penalty box.

The Badgers went on the penalty kill a single-game season-high 10 times in Saturday's loss. After giving up seven power play chances to Minnesota-Duluth the night before, the 17 total opponent's power plays were also the most Wisconsin has given up in a series this season.

Playing down a man for almost 20 minutes in the game resulted in Wisconsin being shut out for the first time this season.

"We just never got any flow," Eaves said, "because we were going to the penalty box, we weren't able to use our depth and roll our four lines.

"It's about rhythm. Offense is about rhythm," he said later. "You talk to football coaches, they want their quarterback and line and their running backs to get into rhythm and we just never got that rhythm."

Even the five power plays UW got Saturday provided no boost, as the Badgers went scoreless and looked out of sync on all their man-advantages.

The lack of power play success and the constant penalties met early in the first period. Wisconsin got its first power play of the game on a roughing penalty to Mike Connolly at 13:53, only to see defenseman Brendan Smith get called for hooking 34 seconds later.

The Badgers would see the tail end of a second period power play cut off as well, with defenseman Ryan McDonagh being called for goaltender interference with six seconds left in a penalty to UMD's David Grun. And with an opportunity to spend the last 1:10 of the game a man up, senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion went off with 18 seconds left in the game.

"We felt like every time we got a little bit going, we ended up taking a penalty and it kind of killed the momentum," senior tri-captain Ben Street said.

Wisconsin entered the game with a golden opportunity to get a win and sit alone in second place in the WCHA. Instead, they will head back to Madison in fourth place and wondering what could have been had they not spent 17:44 of game time in the penalty box.

"I think this will be a true lesson for our guys," McDonagh said. "We've been close at times, it's almost cost us games – here it might have. We've got to make sure we're not doing that, especially down the stretch."

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