It seems only fitting that the Wisconsin hockey broadcast featured the “water bottle incident” during the first intermission, as these two teams combined for 172 penalty minutes, most coming within the final four minutes of the hockey game.
Sioux captain Rylan Kaip’s charge behind the Badger net ignited the largest round of fisticuffs, as all five skaters on each side were given game misconducts and shown the exit doors.
Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves seemed particularly miffed at the physical play, as his post-game handshake with the North Dakota coaching staff turned heated. A video of this altercation can be seen here. My guess is he was upset at Kaip charging a player with his head down, and also with Matt Watkins’ take-down of freshman phenom Kyle Turris. What he didn’t see from the bench, however, was that Turris had slashed Watkins across the wrist as the two were skating away from the boards.
“From the bench, the whole thing bothered me how it unfolded and carried on,” Eaves said. “I was just disappointed and I expressed it to him. How often do you see that in college hockey?”
North Dakota outshot Wisconsin 34-22 in this one, including 13-6 in the first period, as UND staked a 2-0 lead on a beautiful power-play goal by Chris VandeVelde and a late tally by T.J. Oshie. VandeVelde’s goal, a top-shelf backhander at 10:21, came just six seconds into a Sioux power play. Oshie’s goal, the eventual game-winner, came with under three seconds remaining in the opening period. T.J Oshie now has 14 career game-winning goals, third on UND’s all-time list behind only Mark Taylor (18) and Brandon Bochenski (15).
“We didn’t have a lot of spark coming out of the locker room,” Wisconsin senior captain Davis Drewiske said. “It’s disappointing that we could not match them from the start.”
“We were able to make some plays,” said UND senior Robbie Bina, who tallied assists on goals by VandeVelde and Andrew Kozek. “They weren’t tic-tac-toe or anything like that. It was nice to get out there, get a goal first and go from there. We were able to raise our level a little bit more tonight.”
At 14:21 of the second period, Brad Miller came close to making the score 3-0, but the referee ruled that the puck had not crossed the line before Wisconsin goalie Shane Connelly swatted it out of midair with his stick. The overhead video appeared to show a bit of white between the flipping puck and the goal line, but it was very close. The play was reviewed, and ruled no goal.
Andrew Kozek showed a nifty toe-drag move and rifled a wrist shot off the pipe and crossbar to make the score 3-0 later in the second period. Robbie Bina made a nice play to get the puck up the ice to Kozek streaking down the left wing.
“It was a tale of two different nights for me,” Connelly said. “They had some pretty good looks and took advantage of it. I made all those saves (43) last night and don’t get the bounces tonight. I had chances, but they buried their opportunities.”
The Badgers, scoreless on their first seven power plays, finally cashed in on the man advantage with just over two minutes remaining, spoiling Jean-Philippe Lamoureux’s chance at a fifth shutout in nine games. North Dakota’s penalty kill was particularly impressive in the second period, killing three consecutive penalties. UND finished 1 for 4 on the power play.
UND is now killing penalties at a rate of 91.1% (41 of 45), and scoring on 18.2% of power plays (8 of 44). Wisconsin’s power play percentage falls to 30.2% (13 of 43) after going 2 for 11 on the weekend, while their penalty kill has an 85.4% success rate (41 of 48).
The Sioux have given up only one first period goal this season after blanking the Badgers in both opening frames this weekend.
As UND head coach Dave Hakstol said in the post-game interview, this weekend was the best 120 minutes of hockey North Dakota has played to this point. He deemed the 5-3-1 overall record “acceptable”, given the quality of competition. He is pleased that the team is making progress in all areas.
The Ryan Duncan-VandeVelde-Oshie line registered 2 goals and 2 assists, Robbie Bina notched two assists and now has nine through nine games, and Andrew Kozek (1 goal) now has five goals this year and continues to display the quicker, more accurate wrist shot that was missing from his game last season. Evan Trupp had his best weekend, and the Matt Frattin-Darcy Zajac-Brad Malone line may be together for a while, as they created opportunities all weekend long.
UND moves to 5-3-1 (3-3-0 WCHA) on the year, while Wisconsin falls to 5-3-0 (2-2-0 WCHA). North Dakota is off next weekend, and returns to game action November 23-24 when they host the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs for a pair at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The Badgers head to Colorado Springs to face the Tigers in WCHA action.
Thank you for reading this edition of the Game React. I welcome your comments and suggestions.