While the Gophers were splitting at St. Cloud State, the Badgers, their next opponent, were struggling to take three points from Bemidji State, now winless in 12 games (0-9-3), at home.
Wisconsin (12-9-7, 9-6-7 WCHA) won 3-2 on Saturday by taking a 3-0 lead and holding on against Bemidji State (5-17-6, 4-13-5). ... The Gophers play at Bemidji State on the last weekend of the regular season.
The Badgers, with 25 points in the conference, are now in a three-way tie for fifth, just one point behind the third-place Gophers (11-5-4), who have two games in hand on all the other contenders.
“We’ll try to win games any way we can,” assistant captain Derek Lee said in a UW news release. “I think we’ve seen in different weekends throughout the season this year that we can play at a higher level. We’re looking to do that game in and game out, so we know it’s there. We just have to harness that and bring it to every weekend.”
The Badgers have only six conference games left.
“We’ve carved out this little path for ourselves to make something here,” Lee said. “We just have to make sure we’re all pulling the rope in the same direction and ready for each game.”
Keegan Meuer gave Wisconsin a 1-0 lead after Brad Navin stole the puck from Bemidji State goalie Mathieu Dugas behind net -- watch out Adam Wilcox -- and fed Meuer in front for an open-net finish 6:24 into the first period.
The second goal came at the 12:06 mark of the opening period. Michael Mersch skated the puck out of the left corner of the Bemidji State zone, then made a cross-ice feed to a trailing Brendan Woods, who came down the slot to score back door on Dugas.
Kevin Schulze of White Bear Lake made it 3-0 in the middle of the third period when Dugas let a glove save slip out of his grasp. Schulze scored on the rebound.
Coach Tom Serratore replaced Dugas, who gave up three goals on 10 shots at that point. Andrew Walsh played the rest of the game and stopped the 10 shots he faced.
Aaron McLeod scored in front on a Beavers' power play with 2:39 left in the middle period to make it 3-1 Badgers. It was his team-leading 11th goal of the season. It also was BSU's first goal with a man-advantage since Jan. 5. The Beavers had gone 0-for-19 on the power play.
Brance Orban cut the lead to 3-2 at 3:14 of third third period with a shot through Landon Peterson's legs.
Peterson, in the net for the fourth time in five games, made 18 saves. He is 6-3-3 this season.
* Dugas made 38 saves the night before, in BSU's 2-2 tie with the Badgers. The tie was the seventh for Wisconsin in WCHA games, tying a school record.
The Badgers celebrated the 30th anniversary of their 1983 NCAA championship team with a video and introductions during the first intermission of the game. Former NHL great and a member of the 1983 team, Chris Chelios dropped the first puck.
RANKING EXCITES QUINNIPIAC
For the first time in Quinnipiac's history, one of the school's athletic teams is ranked No. 1.
The Bobcats men's hockey team is No. 1 in both major national polls.
"It’s more than impressive that in only our 15th year as a Division I program, that we’re the No. 1 team in the country,” Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold said. “I think it’s something our fans, alumni and our administration can enjoy. For us, as players and coaches, we’ll enjoy it for about 15 minutes and get ready to play St. Lawrence.”
Quinnipiac is 21-3-4 overall and 14-0-2 in the ECAC Hockey. The Bobcats are unbeaten in 21 games.
The Bobcats have been No. 1 in the PairWise Rankings, a system which mimics the NCAA selection committee’s criteria for the seeding of the NCAA tournament since Jan. 19, 2013.
Quinnipiac plays St. Lawrence and Clarkson in single ECAC games this weekend.