The Wisconsin men's hockey team felt it had something to prove after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Michigan Wolverines last Saturday. The message came through loud and clear this weekend at the expense of the Michigan Tech Huskies.
After an 8-2 romp Friday night that saw senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion register his first career hat trick, the Badgers shut out the Huskies en route to a 6-0 victory Saturday. Junior defenseman Brendan Smith and senior forward John Mitchell each scored twice in Wisconsin's highest scoring weekend of the season.
On Friday night, junior forward Patrick Johnson opened the scoring for Wisconsin just over four minutes into the first period. After Geoffrion got his first goal of the night four minutes later, the Huskies cut the lead in half with a power play goal from senior defenseman John Kivisto.
Geoffrion tallied his second goal of the period at the 17:19 mark, and junior defenseman Ryan McDonagh extended the lead to 4-1 just 26 seconds later. The four first-period goals prompted Huskies head coach Jamie Russell to pull sophomore goalie Josh Robinson in favor of freshman Kevin Genoe.
""We threw Robinson in there, and he was awful,"" Russell said after the game. ""He did not have a good night.""
Genoe did not fare much better, as the Badgers continued the onslaught in the second period. Halfway through the second, Geoffrion capped off his hat trick, the first from a Badger since Jack Skille pulled it off on January 27, 2007 against Minnesota State.
Each of Geoffrion's three goals came with a man advantage, tying the Wisconsin single-game record for power play goals by one player.
""I'm getting credit for these goals, and that's nice, but without these guys moving the puck as well as they do in front of the net, I'm not getting credit for these,"" said Geoffrion. ""I have to give a lot of credit to the guys that are around me.""
Freshman Derek Lee and senior Ben Street also tallied second period goals, and the Badgers took a 7-1 lead into the third period. Senior forward Andy Bohmbach capped the night with an exclamation point in the final 15 seconds.
Saturday night, the teams appeared evenly matched for the first 15 minutes. However, Tech freshman Mikael Lickteig was ejected for checking from behind with 4:47 left in the period, and the Badgers exploded for three goals during the ensuing five-minute major power play.
""That [power play] was the turning point in the game,"" UW head coach Mike Eaves said. ""Up to that point, the game was in the balance of which way it was going to go.""
For the game, Wisconsin scored four power play goals, badly exposing a Michigan Tech penalty kill unit, ranking last in the country in success rate. Two of those goals came from Smith, who entered Saturday's contest tied for the WCHA lead in scoring (21 points) and eight points ahead of any other defender in the conference.
""He's got magic in his stick,"" said Eaves. ""His shot is special.""
Mitchell skated with Geoffrion and freshman Craig Smith on the top line both nights, and seemed to find a rhythm, tallying two goals on Saturday night.
""I was kind of nervous at first, I didn't know if I would settle down with them, but I found my groove initially and it carried through the weekend,"" said Mitchell.
The Badger offense, which leads the nation in shots per game, continued the trend, generating 40 on Saturday and 85 for the weekend.
Junior goaltender Scott Gudmandson only faced 15 shots, but stopped them all in his first shutout of the season Saturday.