It was the first time Duke lost in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. It was a clinching game and the Big Ten's first victory in the challenge. It was one of the loudest games in the history of the Kohl Center. It was revenge for the 82-58 beat down in Cameron two years earlier.
Whichever memory from Wisconsin's 73-69 upset of No. 5 Duke Dec. 2 sticks in your head it was the most surprising and exciting sporting event of the school year.
Badgers fans were still unsure if a successful season was to come or if shades of last year's team would show up again when Duke came to the Kohl Center. But led by senior guard Trevon Hughes' 26 points and junior forward Jon Leuer's 17 points and seven rebounds, the underdog Badgers never trailed against the Blue Devils.
Wisconsin stormed out of the gates hitting eight of its first 10 shots, and just five minutes in the Badgers held a 19-9 lead. Duke clawed away at the lead and by half tailed 38-32. It was a back and forth game.
The Badgers would open up a healthy lead only to have the Blue Devils sneak within a possession or two. Most of Duke's success was thanks to junior forward Kyle Singler; he had a game high 28 points including a tip-in with five seconds remaining to cut Wisconsin's lead to one. The Badgers secured the victory by hitting six free throws in the last 25 seconds.
Sophomore guard Jordan Taylor's free throw following a turnover by Singler clinched the victory and kicked off the celebration for Wisconsin fans and Big Ten fans.
One was college hockey's biggest story of the year, the small school in one of its first seasons at the Division I level that made it all the way to the Frozen Four. The other was a powerhouse with six titles that was looking for its seventh.
One boasted a goalie on a hot streak who silenced the Denver and New Hampshire offenses, allowing just three goals in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. The other was led by a prolific scoring attack that posted more goals per game than nearly every other team in the country.
One was just happy to make it to Detroit for the Frozen Four, the other knew making it that far would mean little if they left without a championship.
One was Cinderella, but the other was a clock striking midnight.
Wisconsin fans may have been nervous about facing college hockey's postseason darling, the second straight No. 4 seed to reach the Frozen Four, especially with the Tigers' strong goaltender, Jared DeMichiel. Those fears subsided early, however, as the Badgers scored 1:27 into the first period and never looked back.
""They put us on our heels right from the beginning,"" RIT head coach Wayne Wilson said.
DeMichiel and the Tigers were simply overmatched, as the 8-1 final score indicated the difference in talent between the two squads.
Wisconsin's 5-0 loss in the NCAA championship game may have tarnished fans' memories of the Frozen Four, but this dominant win was the high point of the Badgers' season.
With head coach Bret Bielema and the No. 25 Badgers on a two-year bowlgame losing streak, Wisconsin entered the 2009 Champs Sports Bowlagainst No. 15 Miami looking to end its season for the first time since 2006. The game could not have started worse for UW, as Miami kick returner Graig Cooper took the game's opening boot into the Wisconsin red zone, then ran the ball into the endzone the next play to five the Hurricanes an early 7-0 lead.
But the game was all downhill from there for Miami, as the Badgers would use their patented methodical offense to cruise to a 20-14 victory and claim the Champs Sports Bowl title. Junior quarterback Scott Tolzien was efficient, completing 19 of 26 passes for 260 yards. And Badger running backs John Clay and Montee Ball combined for 182 rushing yards on 37 carries. The six-point margin of victory did not do the game justice, as the Badgers entered halftime with a 10-point lead, and kept the Hurricane offense at bay for the entire second half before a late Miami touchdown with under two minutes in regulation narrowed the gap.
UM sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris had frustrated defenses with his speed all season, but the Badgers turned him into a non-factor, holding him to minus-1 rushing yards on nine attempts.
Perhaps the lasting image of the bowl game for Wisconsin fans is the Miami players and fans huddled up in sweatshirts during the unusually brisk night in Florida. Of course Wisconsin felt right at home with the cool weather on their way to pull the upset.
This series represented college hockey at its finest. Two dynamic teams, two title contenders, two powerhouse programs, locked in a weekend-long battle for supremacy in the most talented conference in the country.
After earning a tie Friday night, Wisconsin struck first on Saturday, getting a goal from senior tri-captain Ben Street. Senior forward Michael Davies provided the assist on the play with a perfect centering pass from the corner. Denver tied the game, but UW answered less than 30 seconds later and took a two goal lead in the second period on goals from freshman forward Craig Smith and sophomore winger Jordy Murray.
The Pioneers staged a comeback of their own, turning to its explosive top line for goals. Senior forward Rhett Rakhshani, who earned First Team All-American honors after the season, closed the lead to one before fellow senior and linemate Tyler Ruegsegger evened the score with less than 15 minutes to go.
Davies became the hero with less than seven minutes to play when he re-directed a shot off the stick of freshman defenseman Justin Schultz past the Pioneers' First Team All-American goaltender, junior Marc Cheverie.
Wisconsin held on to the lead for the final minutes, and earned three points in the most hotly contested series that they played all year. The level of play was tremendous, the amount of talent on the ice rivaled any college contest all year and the electric atmosphere in a packed-to-the-roof Kohl Center led this series to live up to all the hype.
For the first half of the season, it was clear that Wisconsin had all kinds of talent on the roster, but it was not until this night that the Badger's run to the Frozen Four seemed like a real possibility.
Wisconsin had a clear home field advantage over ASU, with the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament being played in their own backyard at the McClimon complex. Fans came out in masses to show their support for the Badgers and the team did not disappoint, toppling ASU 4-3 in an epic penalty kick shootout.
In the first two minutes of the game, Wisconsin had already established a 1-0 lead over ASU after freshman defenseman Lindsey Johnson placed the ball into the back of the Sun Devils' net off a flip thrown-in from sophomore Leigh Williams. The half concluded with Wisconsin maintaining its 1-0 lead, but the Sun Devils took control of the game coming out of the break.
ASU finally got its break with just under twenty minutes remaining as Aissa Sanchez tucked the ball into the far right corner of the net from 15 yards out. The 1-1 tie held all the way through the rest of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes, leaving the fate of both teams to penalty kicks.
After neither goalkeeper managed to stop one of the first three shots, Dalton made two incredible saves to lift the Badgers to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Sun Devils, prompting the student fans in attendance to rush the field.