Friday, January 26, 2007

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota State Game Recap

Minnesota State defeated Wisconsin tonight at the Kohl Center by a score of 3-1. The Mavericks got second period goals from Geoff Irwin and Steve Wagner, and a third period goal from Kael Mouillierat. Wisconsin’s Ben Street cut into Minnesota State’s lead in the third period, but the Badgers could come no closer to evening the game.

The Mavericks are now 3-0-1 over their last four games and seem to be playing their best hockey of the season. The key for the Mavericks is that they are starting to succeed in the area that was most deficient at the beginning of the season: defense.

Despite being the 9th ranked defense in the WCHA, the Mavericks held Wisconsin to just the one goal, and generally left the Badgers feeling frustrated. Minnesota State goalie Mike Zacharias made 23 saves on the night, but also got a lot of help from his defense, which blocked 11 shots on the evening.

“They collapsed really close to the house,” said Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves after the game, referring to the scoring area in front of the net.

The Mavericks also continued their recent success on the powerplay. The Mavericks came into the series in last place in the WCHA on the penalty, but had killed 21 of their last 23 penalties. That success continued tonight as they held Wisconsin to 0 for 5 on the powerplay, with only 9 shots.

After an even first period where both teams looked a little rusty after not playing last weekend, the Mavericks controlled the second period and scored two goals.

Eaves credited the Mavericks by saying, “ They played their game(in the second period), and they got the lead,” though also said, “We compounded our own issues because everyone was trying to do everyone else’s job.”

The Badgers second period performance led a small, but noticeable contingent of Wisconsin fans to boo the team after the period ended.

Coach Eaves said he didn’t hear any boos, but said, “Maybe instead of saying what I did to them at the intermission, I should have booed them too. It was a fair assessment.

The Mavericks went up 3-0 at 1:54 of the first period when Minnesota State freshman Kael Mouillierat fired a slap shot from the point that beat Brian Elliott.

“That was a shot that Brian would like to have back. He stops that shot 99 times out of 100.”

After the Mavericks went up 3-0, the Badgers started playing better hockey, leading to Ben Street’s seventh goal of the season.

“We had a couple good shifts before we got that goal,” said Street.

But in the end, it was too little and too late for the Badgers.

“Once they scored that third goal, we got backed into a corner and started to play. We’ve got to get that going earlier.

The Badgers will try to get things going earlier tomorrow night when they face-off against with the Mavericks for the second game of this two-game series. Minnesota State’s win moved them into a four-way tie for 6th place in the league, along with Alaska-Anchorage, Michigan Tech, and Wisconsin, meaning tomorrow's game should have a big impact on the WCHA standings.