Badgers Reach the Top | Carla Berg Cup Champions
Sunday's Carla Berg Cup Final matchup featured the #4 seed Badgers taking on the #7 seed MN State-Mankato. Both teams played hard fought matchups the entire weekend. The Badgers knocked off St. Thomas 3-2 on Friday and St. Cloud State 2-1 on Saturday. Kato defeated Gustavus Adolfus College 4-1 Friday night and UW-Eau Claire 4-2 on Saturday. The Mavericks were looking to upset their way to a championship and ACHA Regional bid. The Badgers were looking to take down Cinderella and claim their first WCCHA title.
Sean Goss got the nod in net as he was near perfect all weekend. Coach Garvey started the prolific Blue Line of Travis Kernen, John Simon, and Eli Padilla while Coach Feldt put out stud rookie pairing of Ian Barbour and Trace Tompkins. The start of the game saw both teams trading scoring chances and high energy play. Very few whistles kept play moving as the period progressed. As the halfway point of the period drew near, Travis Kernen blasted home a one-time shot from Eli Padilla to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead! John Simon made the first pass to Padilla, adding to his impressive weekend stats. After the play, the Mavericks took a penalty as well, giving the Badgers their first power play of the game. On said power play, Joe Simon would take a shot from the point where Ty Bailey, playing extra hard after his twin brother went down against St. Cloud, would tip home the Badgers second goal! Mikey Perea gave the pass up to Joe at the point. 2-0 Badgers! On the next play, Ty Bailey would get called for the Charmin Ultra Soft call of the game, giving the Mavericks their first chance on the power play. Special teams was the Badgers strong suit this weekend though, as they killed off the chance. The team would take their two goal lead into the intermission.
To start the second, the Badgers looked to keep up their hot start. Ty Bailey took another unfortunate penalty just two and half minutes into the frame. Unfortunately, the penalty killers couldn't stay perfect on the day as Kato netted their first of the game on the power play. But man, do they love taking penalties after the play, giving the Badgers their own power play. Kernen was digging hard in front of the net during the next shift, and apparently that warrants a slash? No matter though, as the Maverick defensemen tried to cross-check him into the concrete floor. Both players would go to the box, causing no change for the Badgers power play opportunity. This time the power play couldn't capitalize as the Mavericks killed it off. But what's this? The Mavericks covered the puck in their own crease? You can't do that! The Badgers would get an opportunity on the ensuing penalty shot, and boy would Joe Simon make them pay! Check out the video here! 3-1 Badgers!! The Mavericks couldn't stay out of the box for long as the Badgers had another power play at the halfway mark of the period. Nothing would find the back of the net on that chance either, back to even strength. A blown icing call would give the Mavs an offensive zone faceoff where a clean faceoff win and quick pass would give MN State their second goal of the game. 3-2 good guys still. That score would hold heading into the second intermission.
The final period would decide who would come out on top and be crowned the Carla Berg Cup Champions. Just fifteen seconds into the period, Mankato would take a penalty sending the Badgers back to the power play. Ian Barbour would emulate Cale Makar from the point shaking and baking the defender before unleashing a slap shot that rang off the right post and in! Trace Tompkins and Eli Padilla would assist the goal; 4-2 Badgers! Lenny Nunn would go to the box on a hooking minor but that was no problem for the Badgers PK units. Back to even strength. The game would transition back into fast paced, hard nose hockey with both teams trading chances. Mankato shortened their bench in the third, however, and their fatigue was starting to show as the period played on. With three minutes to go, Mankato called their timeout to try and conspire a way to overcome the two goal deficit. They would chip away at the lead as a muffed shot tricked Goss and found the back of the net to make it 4-3 with 2:36 to play. The Mavericks just couldn't stay out of their own way as they took a penalty with under two minutes to play. The Badgers would kill a lot of clock before the refs took the wrong #8 and sent Barbour to the box. :21.8 seconds to go in the game. A late whistle would only delay the inevitable.
The Badgers go on to win by a final of 4-3 claiming their first conference championship! Players and coaches celebrated with the long elusive Carla Berg Cup postgame. Thank you to all the parents and friends that captured the moment with photos. It is certainly something this team will never forget.
Joe Simon - 1G 1A
Ty Bailey - 1G
Travis Kernen - 1G
Ian Barbour - 1G
Eli Padilla - 2A
John Simon - 1A
Mikey Perea - 1A
Trace Tompkins - 1A
The team extends their post season into the ACHA Central Regional tournament. That tournament will be played the weekend of 2/25-2/27 in Lacrosse, WI. The final regional rankings and matchups will be released this coming week sometime before the weekend. The Badgers currently sit as the #10 seed. The tournament will determine the final two teams that will represent the Central Region at the ACHA National Tournament in St. Louis in early March. Be sure to stay tuned for all the updates via twitter and the website!