The No. 3 Wisconsin men's hockey team blew out of the gate against No. 8 Colorado College Friday night, tallying its first goal less than a minute into the game en route to a dominating 4-0 victory. But the Badgers then gave up four first-period goals, and, despite a comeback, fell 6-5, splitting the series and missing a chance to gain ground in the race for the MacNaughton Cup.
Senior forward Ben Street notched a goal just 43 seconds in to the first period to jump start the Badgers' offense Friday night. Sophomore forward Derek Stepan earned an assist on the play, and finished the night with a goal and two assists in his first action since returning from the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Junior defenseman Brendan Smith and sophomore forward Jordy Murray rounded out the scoring with the Badgers' third and fourth goals, respectively, against Tiger freshman goalie Joe Howe.
Junior goaltender Scott Gudmandson turned in the performance of the night, stopping all 35 shots he faced, including a couple early chances that could have drastically changed the outlook of the game. The Badgers were outshot for the night, but Gudmandson ensured that it did not matter, running his season record to 7-2-3.
After the memorable performance on Friday night, Gudmandson had a forgettable one Saturday. With an unimpressive Badger defense in front of him, the Tigers scored less than a minute into the first period and ran away with the game.
After giving up another goal just 1:48 in, Wisconsin cut the lead in half with a goal from Street on a nice breakaway sequence with senior forward Michael Davies.
Disaster struck later in the period when Colorado College added two more goals in a span of nine seconds, running the lead to 4-1 and prompting UW head coach Mike Eaves to pull Gudmandson and replace him with fellow junior Brett Bennett.
The Badgers turned up the offensive pressure in an attempt to come back, but each time they appeared to grab some momentum, the Tigers responded.
Street closed the gap to 6-4 with just over two minutes left in the game, and Davies added a goal with 1.4 seconds left to make it 6-5, but it was too little too late, as the game ended on the ensuing face off, marking the first time all year the Badgers lost a game in which they scored four or more goals.
Although the second half of league play is just beginning, the weekend brought significant changes to the WCHA's look. The Badgers entered the weekend third in the conference with a chance to make ground on league leader Denver, who was idle this week. But after splitting the series with the Tigers, Wisconsin lost ground in the title race because Minnesota-Duluth swept Minnesota State and moved into first place with 25 points. The Badgers now find themselves in a tie for fourth with St. Cloud State with 20 points.
—uwbadgers.com contributed to this report.