Winning Streak Continues | GAC Series Preview
After a much needed winter break, the boys are looking to keep the winning ways going against another WCCHA SE division foe in Gustavus Adolphus College. But, before we preview the games coming up this weekend, let's look back at the final weekend of 2022 vs. UW-Eau Claire.
The Badgers had the weekend vs. the Blugolds circled from the beginning of the season, looking to snap a 7 year losing streak to their instate rivals. Yes, we hadn't beaten UWEC since before Byrd was on the team - it's been a while.
Friday night started with the road team getting the upper hand early. After an evenly matched, physical first period, the Blugolds would hold a 0-1 lead into the first break. And shortly after the puck drop in the second, they would tack on their second of the night. 0-2 bad guys. Another hard fought period by the Badgers, but they couldn't find the back of the net as the 2 goal deficit would hold going into the third.
Like clockwork, the Blugolds would add another goal increasing their lead to 0-3. However, the boys wouldn't go down easy. Former Blugold, now Badger standout Travis Kernen started the scoring for the home squad making it 1-3! Rookie JB Vance would score the next one for the Badgers on a fantastic shot finding the upper 90 to make it 2-3. UWEC seemed to run out of gas as the Badgers piled on the shots eventually tying the game off a shot from the point from Trace Tompkins! 3-3 nearing the end of the third!
The teams would need extra time to settle game one. As the 3-on-3 period commenced, the Badgers looked commanding with their puck possession game and patience. A fast break into the Blugold zone would find Valentini and Kernen passes landing on Ian Barbour's stick as he blasted home the overtime winner! Badgers win for the first time in a long time! 4-3 in OT! Final shots were 56-38 in favor of the Badgers. Goss with a solid performance between the pipes.
Game two was sure to be another classic. It appeared that the Badgers got their beauty rest and the Blugolds made the most of their night in Madison as it was clear who the more prepared team was for the second game.
The Blugolds would take a penalty early for high-sticking, sending the Badgers to the power play! The potent Red Line worked the puck around the zone, only needing a minute to find the back of the net and open the flood gates! Tompkins netted the goal from the left point with Feldt and Gunderson getting the apples. A few minutes later, the Badgers were back on the power play as Byrd took a punch in front of the Badger bench. The Green Line would get their opportunity on the power play, making the most of it as Perea lasered home a snap shot making it 2-0! Vance and Barbour got the assists on the second goal. Jake Bialey wanted to get in on the scoring as he blocked a shot and was sprung on a rush from Gachman taking it down the right wing and stuffing it short side low! 3-0 good guys! Late in the period though, the Blugolds would beat Joe Berg making it 3-1 going into the first intermission.
It would take 10 minutes of play in the second for the next goal to be scored, but not for the home team. The Blugolds would cut the lead to just 1 as they scored their second of the afternoon. But the Badgers would bounce back quick with another Tompkins goal, 4-2 - Kernen with the assist! And just 20 seconds later, Doherty would net his first of the weekend with Tompkins getting the assist! 5-2 Badgers! That score would hold the rest of the game as both teams fought hard but couldn't find the back of the net! Badgers get the win and sweep the series! Shots were 48-20 in favor of the home team. Another solid goaltending performance by Berg!
This weekend, the Badgers are traveling to St. Pete, MN to take on the Gusties of GAC. Last year, the Badgers split the series with the Gusties in Madison with game one going to the Badgers 4-2 and game two going to the Gusties 4-1. With valuable WCCHA and ACHA points on the line, it should be a hard fought series by both teams! The Badgers look to gain 4 more points in their WCCHA standings, setting up a division title matchup with St. Thomas later in the month. GAC is looking to right the ship and claw their way into the Carla Berg Cup playoffs. Game one is Saturday 1/14 at 2pm at GAC Lund Arena. Game two is Sunday 1/15 at 1pm at GAC Lund Arena.
We would like to extend a thank you in advance to all the families in the greater Minnesota/Twin Cities area for hosting the team this weekend! We love getting some home cooking and somewhere a little nicer to stay!
As always, stay up to date with the games via Twitter, @WIClubHockey and on Instagram with the same handle.