"Well the better team won tonight," Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said after the Gophers beat the Badgers 4-1 on Saturday. "We didn't play very well in the first; we played better in the second. It was 1-1 after two periods. We had a chance to win this thing and have a great weekend. Unfortunately we went out and shot ourselves in the foot with some of the decisions we made with the puck and that cost us in the end.
"The third period [the Gophers] were the better team. [The Gophers outscored UW 3-0 that period.] So I would say four out of the six periods I liked what we did. Unfortunately it's a six-period weekend."
The Badgers won the first game of the series 3-1 on Friday when Joel Rumpel had a shutout until the last two minutes.
"This was a good test for this young group," Eaves said. "We played against a talented, high-tempo team who brought their `A' game [Saturday]. And we did not get the job done. I could see some of the looks in our young guys' eyes, thinking `this is a different team than it was last night'. If you're going to say `experience is the best teacher', if you evaluate honestly what we did, we're going to take a good, hard look at this and see the things that happened and how we can improve on that.
"So right now, the most exciting thing for me--I can't wait to get into the office on Monday. I can't wait to watch this game. I can't wait to see those areas that we can show our kids. And then the challenge is how we can get our kids better during the course of the next week."
Actually, UW had two great chances in the scoreless second period when it was 1-1.
"We could've been up 3-1, and we didn't even get a shot on net on both of those," Eaves said. "If we make the plays, they're great plays. But we didn't even get a shot [on one play] and that came back to bite us a little bit. That's part of our evaluation that we need to take a look at when we look at video.
"Everybody wants to be that guy that makes that nice pass rather than take the responsibility themselves to snipe. That's a sniper's mentality, and it's something that we
need to address with our young team. I don't call it selfishness at all. It's taking what's given. There's no selfishness
involved--it's what the play demands and you take it."
Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves was not real happy with the five-minute major and game disqualification given to Badgers forward Michael Mersch late in the second period. He was called for contact to the head on a hard hit on Kyle Rau near the sideboards.
"Well one of the rule changes has been the contact to the head," Eaves said. "And when you've got the disparity between a guy who's 6'4" and a guy who's 5'9"--maybe--there's who hits who. I mean his shoulder hits his head, it turns out we looked at the video and he hit his shoulder actually.
"These guys [referees] have a tough job, they're trying to make a snap decision at a glance. Unfortunately he made the call he did and we had to kill a five minute. It wasn't a factor in the game as it turned out. Actually I think we got some momentum by going out there and killing the penalty. We did a nice job. So it's one of those things in the game where I'm glad it wasn't a turning point--if anything it gave us some energy."
FOUND NO. 1 GOALIE
Eaves had been rotating two freshmen goalies, but he stuck with Joel Rumpel for both games against the Gophers. Rumpel had 24 saves on Friday and 33 on Saturday.
"Rumpel was excellent. Excellent," Eaves said, referring to the second game. "He gave us a chance, he held us in there in the first. He was square and he moved great. You can just see it starting to grow for him in terms of his confidence."
Wisconsin forward Tyler Barnes, who played for Burnsville High, said the Badgers passed up some shots.
Barnes scored his team's only goal to extend his points streak to 11 games but had a good chance for one or two more goals. Once he and linemate Joseph LaBate, a former Holy Angels star, were two-on-zero in front of U goalie Kent Patterson and botched the play when Barnes tried to pass to LaBate.
"I'm sure he [coach Eaves] wanted me to shoot that one but I saw Bater [LaBate] on that backside and thought I could get it to him. It didn't work out. It's easy to go back, look at them and say `shoulda, coulda, woulda.' I think [shooting] might have been a better decision at that point in the game."
Said LaBate, "I expected a pass, definitely. Barnes did a nice fake and I was ready for it. It just slipped under my stick. There's no excuses, I should have had it."
Also in the second period, Barnes had two great chance near the left post. "Actually I got pretty good wood on that one," he said. "[Gophers goalie Kent] Patterson made a great save. I think the first was maybe the one that should've have been saved and the second one should've gone in, but that's just how this game is. Bounces happen, sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't.
"We knew that after the first night, they were going to come out hard. They we're going to be moving their feet. It's a big rivalry game and I'm sure every series one team wins, the other is going to come out. We knew that and tried to weather the storm. We got through the first period in a tie game, which was fortunate for us and we played better in the second."
The Gophers outshot UW 12-4 in the opening period. Both teams scored on their second shot of the game.
"Coming in they were the No. 1 team in the nation," LaBate said. "We knew they were going to be a good team. Practice went well last week and I think we were all expecting this high tempo. They definitely brought it tonight and the pace definitely picked up. I think we just have to go back to the drawing board and next we just have to work that much harder."
* Saturday's crowd of 13,149 at the Kohl Center was about 2,000 under capacity but still the largest of the season there.
* The Gophers are No. 4 in the latest PairWise ratings behind Merrimack, Boston College and Ferris State.
* Erik Haula of the Gophers no longer leads the nation in scoring. Haula (7-11--18) is a point behind T.J. Tynan of Notre Dame (3-16--19). Haula is alone in second, but there are three players on his heels with 17.
* Sophomore Nate Schmidt (1-12--13) is second nationally in scoring among defensemen. The leader is Wisconsin junior Justin Schultz (4-12--16).
* Gophers freshman Kyle Rau leads all rookies with eight goals and 15 points. He is first among all players with four game-winning goals.
* Patterson by the numbers:
1st in shutouts nationally with five
2nd in minutes with 721.27
tied for 3rd in winning percentage at .935; he is 10-2
4th in goals-against average at 1.66
7th in save percentage at .935
* The Gophers are second in the nation in scoring, averaging 4.42 goals per game (Colorado College is first at 4.43 gpg) and fourth in defense, giving up 1.67 goals per game
* The Gophers power play is fifth nationally at 26.7 percent, their penalty kill is ninth at 89.5 percent
Here is another report on the Gophers-Badgers second game:
* Wisconsin State Journal story is here.