first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoWhen the Wisconsin men’s hockey team sputtered down the stretch last season, the biggest problem was scoring goals. After a weekend split with St. Lawrence, that question came to the forefront again for the No. 10 Badgers.The Saints, who finished seventh in the ECACHL last season, gave the Badgers all they could handle, sending both Friday night and Saturday night’s games into overtime. In the end, each team escaped with a victory.”We’re going to go through some growing pains like this,” forward Joe Pavelski said. “This was a growing pain weekend, it was tough.”Saturday night the Badgers saw everything come crumbling in the blink of an eye. Pavelski won the faceoff to open the overtime, but senior Tom Gilbert misplayed the puck and turned it over to Saints forward Kyle Rank.Rank took the puck into his offensive zone and fired a shot from the top of the right circle. Brian Elliott got part of his blocker pad on the flying puck, but it deflected into the goal and the Saints skated away with the win just 10 seconds into extra time.”[Wisconsin is] a real good team. We’re excited to be able to come into their building and this atmosphere,” St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh said. “If you can’t enjoy this, if this is not the epitome of college hockey, I don’t know what is. And [we have] something to bring home to show for it.”Pavelski initially gave the Badgers the lead midway through the second period, only to see the Saints come back in the third.Junior Robbie Earl was hit with a five-minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct 7:30 into the third period for checking from behind, setting up a five-minute power play of which the Saints took advantage.The penalty forced the Badgers to play the rest of the way, quite noticeably without their most clutch scorer, before the turnover created the unlikely game-winning goal.”Offense is a funny creature. …We had scoring chances and we didn’t bury them,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said.The Badgers, however, benefited from a rather soft goal of their own in overtime Friday night.It was the rookies who got it done for both teams, but Wisconsin especially, as it clawed its way to a 3-2 win.Down 2-0 late in the second period, it was rookie Ben Street who shifted the momentum the Badgers’ way and Earl who came through with a timely third-period goal to send the season-opener into overtime.Once there, it was freshman Jack Skille coming through as the hero for the Badgers.The Verona native skated the puck up the ice and into the offensive zone. After making a shifty move, Skille was upended but sent the puck toward the net, where it found its way past goalie Kevin Ackley as his own defenseman came barreling into him and the Badgers escaped with a 3-2 win.”I tried making a move to the middle and I got tripped up, and I got lucky and it squirted in,” Skille said.”Jack just went to the net, made a play at the net,” Eaves said. “You could call it a fluky goal, but it’s the ability to go to the net and good things will happen.”Nonetheless, the Badgers put up only four goals on the weekend and came away with just one victory.Earl and Pavelski — last year’s two leading scorers — each got their first goals of the season, but the rest of the veteran players came up empty.”We still have really high expectations for this team,” Pavelski said. “We’ve got some good players. We’re going to have a couple weeks of good practice and we’re going to get back out there.”Elliott — playing in his first series as UW’s number one goalie — looked sharp. He made 55 saves on the weekend and allowed just four goals — and Saturday’s game-winner was the only one that he had a chance to save.”I thought he was really controlled in his movement in the crease,” Eaves said after Friday’s win. “I thought it was an excellent performance.”Wisconsin gets next weekend off before traveling to St. Cloud State Oct. 21-22 to open WCHA play.”What this weekend really does is it sets us up. We played a quality team that made us work and that’s exactly what we’re going to see in a couple weeks,” Eaves said. “So we’ll take the lessons and get ready for the WCHA opener.”last_img

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