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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Dominant start leads to convincing win for UW

Geoffrion: Senior forward Blake Geoffrion notched one goal and one assist to help send Wisconsin to the National Championship game.

Dominant start leads to convincing win for UW

DETROIT—Just days before the Badgers played their first Frozen Four game a few players said that it would be natural to be a bit nervous in the opening moments on such a big stage.

But when the puck dropped not a single player in Cardinal and White seemed to have the slightest case of nerves. Instead they simply dominated.

Wisconsin keyed its 8-1 win over the Rochester Institute of Technology with a scorching start and near picture-perfect execution of its offensive philosophy. The early burst of energy helped carry them past the Tigers and into Saturday's title game.

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""It was one of our emphases to get off to a great start, and we wanted to just take time and space away quickly and see how they would handle it,"" Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. ""We did what we needed to do, and we were able to get an early lead ... getting a good start was paramount.""

The Badgers came in waves in the first two minutes, throwing the puck into the corners and simply outracing RIT to establish possession.

Wisconsin completely controlled the puck for the first minute-and-a-half, from the initial seconds to the moment when senior forward John Mitchell banged home the first UW score on a rebound.

The onslaught continued as the Badgers kept pushing and generating scoring chances (lighting the lamp for a second time). Despite only holding a 10-6 lead in shots, they held complete control through the period and ultimately through the game.

""We just ran into a powerhouse tonight,"" Tigers head coach Wayne Wilson said. ""It's one thing, them scoring the first goal early but then for them to go up 2-0, I thought it was a real changing point in the game.""

It was another one of those bursts of energy that fully sealed it. Wisconsin rolled to a pair of power-play goals on over three consecutive minutes with the man advantage. Even defensively the Badgers were overwhelming, limiting one of the five best offenses in the country to just 10 shots in two periods.

When those bursts of energy were paired with long stretches of near-flawless offensive execution it was the recipe for the blowout that occurred. The scores usually occurred after a series of quick accurate passes that yielded open nets for players lingering on the weak side.

The Badgers rely on a mantra of throwing pucks and bodies at the net and that was on display early in the contest.

""I think our coaching staff made that a point the entire time,"" Mitchell said. ""Our forwards take DeMichiel's eyes away. He's been hot. He played obviously well. Beat two good teams in Denver and UNH. We didn't think they got too many eyes in front of us, so one of our points of emphasis were come out and take his eyes away.""

DeMichiel entered the game averaging fewer than two goals allowed per game.

""Doesn't matter what goaltender you're playing against, whether it's [Martin] Brodeur or [UW's Scott] Gudmandson, you make them less effective by having people in front of them,"" Eaves added.

Both of the Badgers' first two goals came courtesy of that game plan, with defenseman putting the puck on the from the point and forwards standing in front of the net (Mitchell and sophomore Derek Stepan) converting for goals.

Both coaches and players praised the Tiger defense during the week, but that crispness of the UW attack kept it from being a factor.

""We focused on our ability to be intelligent having the puck in their zone,"" Eaves said. ""By having the puck in their zone and having time in their zone, they don't have the biscuit. So I think that takes away from them getting as many scoring shots as they had hoped to.""

With a Saturday date against Boston College and a title on the line, a performance with as high a level of energy and execution could go a long way toward a seventh title.

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