The Wisconsin Badgers took a quick trip down Interstate 94 to Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee, where they competed in the second annual Kwik Trip Holiday Face-Off.
The Badgers spread the holiday cheer during the Face-Off semifinals game Wednesday night, with four different skaters scoring in UW’s 4-0 victory over the Lake Superior State Lakers.
Wisconsin was unable to find the back of the net in the scoreless opening frame of the contest despite having several quality chances and a 13-9 shots on goal advantage.
Minutes after both sides skated back onto the ice for the second period, forward Brock Caufield got the Badgers on the board. Mathieu De St. Phalle received a feed from Cruz Lucius upon entering the offensive zone and dished the puck to Caufield, who uncorked a wrister from the high slot at 2:36 to put Wisconsin up, 1-0.
Carson Bantle doubled Wisconsin’s lead at 7:02 in the second. With the Badgers on the power play, Lucius deployed a masterful kick save near the blue line to prevent LSSU’s clearing attempt. The freshman then threaded the puck to De St. Phalle, who connected with Bantle on the far side to set up an easy tap-in goal.
Following a brief scoring standstill, the Badgers extended their lead with 3:33 left in the closing frame. Forward Sam Stange corralled a pass from teammate Corson Ceulemans and buried a backhand shot from the left circle to put the Lakers out of contention, 3-0.
UW’s Liam Malmquist scored an additional goal for good measure, firing the puck from the neutral zone into the empty net at 18:08 in the third period.
Looking to replicate the results of the inaugural Kwik Trip Holiday Face-Off, Wisconsin took on Clarkson Thursday, intent on winning the tournament for a consecutive year. The Golden Knights had other plans, securing an early lead they never gave up en route to beating the Badgers, 3-1.
Similar to the night before, Wisconsin struggled to gain their footing early on in the contest — it wasn’t until 4:52 in the first period that the Badgers took their first shot of the night.
The Golden Knights fared far better in the opening frame, notching the first goal of the evening at 8:35. Clarkson’s Chris Klack gained control of the puck off a faceoff and wristed it home from between the circles to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Anthony Romano added to the Golden Knights’ lead with 13:26 left in the second period. With the Badgers down two men because of penalties assessed to Ben Dexheimer and Luke LaMaster, the Clarkson forward netted a one-timer just 12 seconds into the 5-on-3.
The Badgers responded with a goal of their own 10 minutes later. A 2-on-1 rush that went awry fortunately ended positively for UW, as Lucius hammered in a loose puck sitting in the crease to bring Wisconsin within one, 2-1.
UW goaltender Jared Moe was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:20 left in the third period, but the move did little to invigorate the Badger offense. Erik Bargholtz’s empty-net goal with 5.1 seconds left in the game put the finishing touches on Clarkson’s 3-1 win and tournament victory.
Despite not winning this year’s Kwik Trip Holiday Face-Off, one Badger left the Fiserv Forum with a new piece of hardware. Due to his strong play throughout the two-day tournament, Moe earned the title of “Most Outstanding Goalkeeper.”
Next weekend, the Badgers will return home to the Kohl Center for the first time in over a month. Games against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.