Wisconsin extends its season with WCHA title

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 24, 2013 - 12:41 AM

The Badgers are heading to the NCAA tourney, finishing strong after an anemic start.

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After a 1-7-2 start to the season, Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves knew his players had a choice to make. They could sag under the weight of that awful beginning and expect an early end to their season, or they could persevere.

The Badgers chose the latter. Saturday at Xcel Energy Center, their refusal to lose hope carried them all the way to a WCHA Final Five championship and the NCAA tournament bid that comes with it.

Wisconsin (22-12-7) defeated Colorado College 3-2 to win its first Broadmoor Trophy since 1998, ending its tenure in the WCHA with a season that Eaves called the most enjoyable of his career.

Freshman winger Nic Kerdiles scored the winning goal at 16 minutes, 15 seconds of the second period and was named the tournament’s most valuable player after collecting three goals and three assists in three games. The victory was the sixth in a row for the No. 14 Badgers and extended their record to 21-5-5 in their past 31 games.

The Badgers’ Tyler Barnes scored the game’s first goal with 17 seconds remaining in the first period. Sean Little made it 2-0 early in the second before Charlie Taft pulled the Tigers within 2-1. Kerdiles extended the Badgers’ lead to 3-1, and after the Tigers’ Rylan Schwartz scored with 27.6 seconds left in the second period, Colorado College (18-19-5) was held without a goal on only four shots.

The victory gave Wisconsin an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, which begins Friday. The 16-team field will be announced at 8 p.m. Sunday. Four other WCHA teams — the Gophers, North Dakota, Denver and Minnesota State, Mankato — are in position to make the tournament, while St. Cloud State is on the bubble.

“We get to play another weekend,’’ Eaves said. “[The players] stayed together through some tough times, and it served us well. We are where we are today because of those lessons we learned.’’

The announced attendance for the championship game was 18,782. WCHA officials said 87,295 fans attended the five games over three days, the third-largest total attendance in the event’s history.

The game was the last in the WCHA for both teams; the Badgers and Gophers will play in the Big Ten beginning next season.

The Tigers are among six other WCHA members heading to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

 

  • related content

  • Tyler Barnes, who scored four goals in the WCHA Final Five, celebrated after connecting in the first period Saturday night.

  • The Badgers jumped on goalie Joel Rumpel at the end of the victory over Colorado College that gave Wisconsin its first Broadmoor Trophy since 1998.. Rumpel made the all-tournament team.

  • A look back before turning the page

    Results of the WCHA tournament finals since 1988, when the league went to its current playoff format:

    Year Site Score Tournament MVP Att.

    1988 St. Paul Civic Center Wisconsin 3, Minnesota 2 Dean Anderson, G, Wisconsin 51,807

    1989 St. Paul Civic Center Northern Michigan 9, Denver 4 Bill Pye, G, Northern Michigan 50,232

    1990 St. Paul Civic Center Wisconsin 7, Gophers 1 Steve Rohlik, F, Wisconsin 47,845

    1991 St. Paul Civic Center Northern Michigan 4, Gophers 2 Bill Pye, G, Northern Michigan 44,287

    1992 St. Paul Civic Center Northern Michigan 4, Gophers 2 Corwin Saurdiff, G, Northern Michigan 44,079

    1993 St. Paul Civic Center Gophers 5, Northern Michigan 3 Travis Richards, D, Gophers 50,737

    1994 Bradley Center, Milwaukee Gophers 3, St. Cloud State 2 (OT) Chris McAlpine, D, Gophers 61,367

    1995 St. Paul Civic Center Wisconsin 4, Colorado College 3 (OT) Kirk Daubenspeck, G, Wisconsin 55,908

    1996 Bradley Center, Milwaukee Gophers 7, Michigan Tech 2 Brian Bonin, F, Gophers 47,304

    1997 St. Paul Civic Center North Dakota 4, Gophers 3 (OT) David Hoogsteen, F, North Dakota 56,707

    1998 Bradley Center, Milwaukee Wisconsin 3, North Dakota 2 Joe Bianchi, F, Wisconsin 38,707

    1999 Target Center Denver 4, North Dakota 3 Stephen Wagner, G, Denver 42,226

    2000 Target Center North Dakota 5, Wisconsin 3 Lee Goren, F, North Dakota 49,717

    2001 Xcel Energy Center St. Cloud State 6, North Dakota 5 (OT) Tyler Arnason, F, St. Cloud State 67,612

    2002 Xcel Energy Center Denver 5, Gophers 2 Wade Dubielewicz, G, Denver 75,151

    2003 Xcel Energy Center Gophers 4, Colorado College 2 Grant Potulny, F, Gophers 72,786

    2004 Xcel Energy Center Gophers 5, North Dakota 4 Kellen Briggs, G, Gophers 82,564

    2005 Xcel Energy Center Denver 1, Colorado College 0 Brett Sterling, F, Colorado College 77,746

    2006 Xcel Energy Center North Dakota 5, St. Cloud State 3 Jordan Parise, G, North Dakota 87,579

    2007 Xcel Energy Center Gophers 3, North Dakota 2 (OT) Blake Wheeler, F, Gophers 88,900

    2008 Xcel Energy Center Denver 2, Gophers 1 Alex Kangas, G, Gophers 86,855

    2009 Xcel Energy Center Minnesota Duluth 4, Denver 0 Alex Stalock, G, Minnesota Duluth 82,065

    2010 Xcel Energy Center North Dakota 5, St. Cloud State 3 Evan Trupp, F, North Dakota 71,533

    2011 Xcel Energy Center North Dakota 3, Denver 2 (2OT) Matt Frattin, F, North Dakota 57,773

    2012 Xcel Energy Center North Dakota 4, Denver 0 Aaron Dell, G, North Dakota 73,002

    2013 Xcel Energy Center Wisconsin 3, Colorado 2 Nic Kerdiles, F, Wisconsin 87,295

    Overall titles: Gophers 6, North Dakota 6, Wisconsin 5, Denver 4, Northern Michigan 3, Minnesota Duluth 1, St. Cloud State 1

    2013 ncaa men’s tournament

    Qualifying teams: 16 (field will be announced at 8 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU).

    Automatic qualifiers: Conference tournament champions from the WCHA (Wisconsin), CCHA (Sunday’s Notre Dame-Michigan winner), ECAC (Union), Hockey East (Massachusetts-Lowell) and Atlantic Hockey Association (Canisius)

    Friday-Saturday regionals: West (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Northeast (Manchester, N.H.)

    Saturday-Sunday regionals: Midwest (Toledo, Ohio) and East (Providence, R.I.)

    Frozen Four: April 11 and 13 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh

    2012 champion: Boston College

    USCHO PAIRWISE RANKINGS

    The Pairwise Rankings mimic the formula the NCAA uses to select its tournament field (through Saturday):

     1. Quinnipiac

     2. Gophers

     3. Massachusetts-Lowell

     4. (tie) Notre Dame

     4. (tie) Miami (Ohio)

     4. (tie) Boston College

     7. (tie) North Dakota

     7. (tie) New Hampshire

     9. (tie) Denver

     9. (tie) Niagara

    11. (tie) Minnesota State Mankato

    11. (tie) Union

    13. St. Cloud State

    14. (tie) Wisconsin

    14. (tie) Yale

    • Likely out: 16. Western Michigan, No. 17 Boston U.

    •  Outside of top 16 but still can earn berth by winning conference tournament: 26. Michigan.

    •  Earned berth by winning conference tournament: Unranked Canisius

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