UW offense comes up short

first_imgUW senior forward John Mitchell and the Badgers failed to create much offense in the title game.[/media-credit]DETROIT — After putting up the most goals by a team in a Frozen Four game since 1994 Thursday night, scoring didn’t look like it would be a problem for Wisconsin in the title game.Whoops.The Badgers forgot their offense against a Boston College Eagles team that executed a terrific defensive game plan en route to a 5-0 thwomping — only the fourth shutout in national title game history.UW had seven different players score in the 8-1 win over RIT in the semifinal, the most offense by a team since Lake Superior State won 9-1 in the 1994 title game. The Wisconsin offense was dangerous and effective, sending skaters to crash the net while putting shots on goal from the wing and point.But BC knew UW likes to shoot the puck. And in the title game, seemingly every time a Badger took a shot, it went off an Eagle’s leg, stick or skate.“They did a tremendous job of getting in our shooting lanes,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “We couldn’t get pucks to the net, they blocked a ton of shots. I thought that was one thing they did really well.”Against RIT, senior John Mitchell was able to put away a rebound to put Wisconsin up 1:27 into the game. Derek Stepan got the second goal with a redirection of a Ryan McDonagh shot. Tigers goaltender Jared DeMichiel wasn’t able to get a lot of open looks at shots, resulting in the six goals he allowed.The rebounds and screens that were so effective Thursday night didn’t happen Saturday for one main reason: the puck rarely got that close to BC goaltender John Muse. Muse certainly was solid for the Eagles, making some stops on the few good chances the Badgers had. But he was never really tested, as the Badgers put up just 20 shots on goal — UW averaged 37.9 shots on goal per game entering Saturday.“I think we needed to get more rubber at [Muse],” Eaves said. “It would have made his job more difficult.”The aggressiveness BC showed in its defensive zone — something Wisconsin usually excels at as well — turned out to be the difference in the game. In addition to blocking shots, the Eagles forced the Badgers to keep the puck outside.The disappearing act on offense was a surprise — UW averaged 4.07 goals per game entering Saturday, good for second in the nation. The Badgers had been shutout just twice previously in the season, once at Minnesota-Duluth and again in the WCHA Final Five against St. Cloud State. In most games where Wisconsin struggled to score, they were at least able to get pucks on the net. Saturday was a rare and surprising exception, considering the Badgers’ strict adherence to the “shoot the puck” mantra.Most of UW’s possessions on offense Saturday involved cycling the puck along the end boards, getting it back to the point and then turning the puck over, allowing BC’s speedy forwards to go on the attack in transition.“I think their defense did a good job of blocking shots and collapsing down low and pressuring us pretty hard, getting the turnovers high in the zone,” UW Hobey Baker Award winner Blake Geoffrion said. “They were able to transition off of that and get good goal chances.”“I think a little bit of it is we were trying to score,” UW assistant coach Mark Osiecki said. “We’re trying to go on the offense, obviously we couldn’t get a lot of offense going, so our guys are cheating and trying to generate something positive on the offense side.”Twice, Boston College forward Cam Atkinson was able to score after racing down the left side in transition. While the UW defensemen — great skaters themselves — did a solid job most of the night in containing BC’s speed, the lack of execution on offense doomed the Badgers.The score was just 1-0 entering the third period — but UW was winless this season when trailing after two periods. If Wisconsin scores the equalizer earlier in the games, perhaps the floodgates open, like when UW came back in the third against Denver, or in the Camp Randall Hockey Classic.Instead, as Eaves put it, it just wasn’t Wisconsin’s night.last_img

Leave a Comment