By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
Planning out a road trip to the historically rowdy Kohl Center in Madison, Wisc. is never an easy proposition for any team. Skating a roster that includes 20 underclassmen into that environment makes the challenge that much more daunting.
Whatever Head Coach Dean Blais and the UNO coaching staff had in mind for a game plan, chances are it didn’t include spotting the Badgers a 3-0 lead. Friday the Mavs came from three down to stun Wisconsin 5-4, then lost 6-3 after another three-goal deficit on Saturday.
The split evens up UNO’s overall record to 4-4, and raises their conference record to 3-1. The Mavs and Badgers are now in an early-season tie for third place in the WCHA.
Four power play goals on Friday provided the spark UNO needed to overcome what was a disastrous first six minutes of the game. With Mav freshman Ryan Massa in net, Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game.
Derek Lee scored 46 seconds in, and teammate Tyler Barnes made it 2-0 Wisconsin at 3:50 of the first period. Just 26 seconds later, a collision at center ice resulted in a scrap of players pushing and shoving it out in front of the team benches.
Once the melee was sorted out, UNO sophomore Zahn Raubenheimer was given a five-minute major and removed from the ice on a game misconduct penalty. Teammates Ryan Walters and Tony Turgeon would also get time in the box, putting UNO in a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The Badgers capitalized, and it was 3-0 with 14:15 still to go in the first period.
Despite the early hole, the Mavs were able to salvage a goal and got out of the first down 3-1. Badger goaltender Landon Peterson misplayed a puck and Wisconsin-native Brent Gwidt scored on an open net at 14:58 of the period.
UNO would regroup from the rough start and begin to take control of the game in the second. The Mavs outshot the Badgers 13-6 and controlled play, constantly holding the offensive zone.
A Wisconsin penalty for too many men on the ice led to the Broadhurst goal with 4:52 remaining in the period. White would make it 3-3 at 2:41 of the third, bringing UNO all the way back from 0-3 early in the contest.
The tie would only last briefly. A second goal by the Badgers’ Barnes had the Mavs behind again with 15:55 to go in the game.
Again Wisconsin would be called for too many men on the ice, and again UNO would use it to their advantage. Just 19 seconds into the power play, Broadhurst scored his second of the night and the game was once again even, 4-4.
With the period winding down to inside the last two minutes, it appeared that the deadlock would have to be broken in overtime. The Badgers’ Brad Navin was whistled for hooking with 1:18 remaining, and the Mavs had yet another opportunity on the power play.
Alex Hudson took up his spot in the slot and gave UNO the game winner with only 20.8 seconds remaining. Broadhurst fed Hudson the puck near the front of the Badger net and Hudson fired it home from prime scoring position.
The last twenty seconds ticked away, and the UNO bench stormed onto the ice, celebrating with each other at the Maverick goal.
Speaking to the World Herald, Head Coach Dean Blais said that despite the early hole, his team never lost confidence.
“That’s just character from our guys,” Blais said. “They didn’t panic. There wasn’t one guy hanging his head. They had total belief that we’d come back and win this game.”
Saturday wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic. Like Friday, the Mavs were down 3-0 within the first six minutes of the game.
Like Friday a misplay of a puck by a Wisconsin goaltender would get UNO their first goal of the night. But unlike Friday, the Badgers extended that lead to 4-1 before the end of the first, then made it 5-1 early in the second.
Alex Hudson and Bryce Aneloski would score two third period goals to get UNO back in the game, but it was too little too late. Aneloski got the Mavs to 5-3 with 5:05 to go, but Wisconsin’s Jefferson Dahl scored at the 18:22 mark to seal a 6-3 Badger victory.
Was the emotional toll of coming back on Friday too much to get ready for Saturday? Blais told the World Herald that his team might not have had the right mindset coming into Saturday’s game.
“That was certainly emotional to come back and win the way we won [on Friday],” Blais said. “I don’t think we were as mentally ready as we needed to be [on Saturday].”