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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, May 19, 2024
Special teams triumph for UW

Geoffrion: Senior forward Blake Geoffrion headlined a high-powered offense for the Badgers, scoring three goals this weekend.

Special teams triumph for UW

When you are a WHCA hockey team chasing the McNaughton Cup, like this year's Badger squad, four-point weekends are supremely beneficial, even necessary at times. Usually, in order to sweep a conference opponent, one team must out play the other for a vast majority of the 120 minutes of action in a series. At the Kohl Center this weekend, Wisconsin separated itself from Minnesota State by controlling play during penalty minutes, of which the two teams racked up a combined 109. Put another way: The Badgers' special teams units throttled the Mavericks this weekend, and UW is still in the race for a league title because of it.

Success did not come right away for the Badgers on the power play, as they missed on their first four opportunities on Friday night. Mankato forced the unit to string together multiple passes to create open looks, and Wisconsin failed to generate chances.

""The pressure they put on us with their penalty killing took us a while to get used to,"" Badger head coach Mike Eaves said. ""Once we got used to it we scored some goals.""

Senior forward Michael Davies ignited the Badgers by scoring two power-play goals in a matter of 41 seconds and then set up fellow senior forward Blake Geoffrion up three minutes later with an accurate pass from the left circle to the right post. Davies finished the weekend with five points (two goals, three assists), all of which came during UW power-play chances.

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""There's a confidence level he has with the puck right now,"" Eaves said of Davies. ""It's a comfort level with the guys on the ice, they know where each other are before they even get the puck.""

After scoring three goals on Friday night, the Wisconsin power-play unit added three more on Saturday night, finishing the weekend with six conversions on 20 chances. As critical as the success with a man advantage was for Wisconsin, its execution on the penalty kill proved to be just as important. The Badgers managed two short-handed goals for the weekend and allowed just one goal from the Mavericks power-play unit.

""We've talked about being a little more offensive in the short-handed aspect,""  said Geoffrion, who had the primary assist on both short-handed goals. ""It was nice to get that this week.""

The penalty-kill unit did not allow a goal until the third period of Saturday's 8-4 victory and snuffed out 12 of Minnesota State's 13 chances on the weekend. The performance added to a great run for the Badgers, as they have successfully killed off 29 of the last 31 power-play opportunities against them.

""It just comes down to moving our feet and outworking other teams,"" said senior forward Aaron Bendickson, who turned in excellent defensive work and also scored on a short-handed chance Friday. 

When it was all said and done, the special teams net scoring for the Badgers came out to plus-six for the weekend. While a margin that wide will not come every weekend, it is a trend that Eaves said is important to late season success. 

""When it comes down to it at the end of the year, you talk about goaltending and special teams as the types of things that can put you over the edge in terms of winning some games.""

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