Monday, February 8, 2010

Badgers Shine at Camp Randall Classic

Wisconsin junior defenseman Brendan Smith entered Saturday’s Culver’s Camp Randall Hockey Classic leading the team with three game winning goals, but his fourth is going to be tough to top.
Smith converted on two power play goals in the final five minutes, including the winner with 1:22 left, to lead the Badgers past Michigan 3-2 in front of 55,031 people—the second highest game attendance in college hockey history.
Both of the goals came after Wisconsin made an adjustment on their power play set, allowing Smith to find some breathing room at the top of the slot and get in position to snap off two blistering one-timers that beat junior Wolverine goaltender Bryan Hogan.
“I have to give credit to the power play, Michael Davies threaded that pass through the lane so perfectly,” Smith said. “The first one was more of a ‘close your eyes and shoot.’ The second one I had a little bit of a lane and got a hold of it a little bit more.”
The Badgers jumped out to an early lead when sophomore forward Jordy Murray collected a bouncing puck right in front of the net and had plenty of space to finish at the 3:04 mark. Michigan tied the game with just over a minute to play in the first and seemed to carry momentum in to the second period as the teams tried to get used to the elements and the ice.
“I felt like a freshman again out there,” said senior center and captain Blake Geoffrion. “I had the butterflies going and everything.”
Neither team developed much rhythm in the second period, which featured a lot of back-and-forth possessions and neutral zone play. Freshman forward Kevin Lynch put Michigan ahead with just under nine minutes to play in the third period, and threatened to send the crowd home cold and disappointed.
However, with the help of some football tradition in the form of ‘Jump Around’ and the late-game heroics of Smith, a night that started at 21 degrees ended with a much warmer feeling for UW fans and players alike.
“We were cold, but I think the goose bumps were because of how loud it was,” said senior center and captain Ben Street.
The game also served as an energy boost and a bounce-back after last Saturday’s performance against Minnesota-Duluth. A week after taking 13 penalties against the Bulldogs, the Badgers committed just two and got great work on the penalty kill by tenacious senior forwards Aaron Bendickson and Andy Bohmbach. On the other side of the puck, the Badgers went 2-4 on the power play a week after finishing 0-5 on Saturday and 1-10 for the series.
Many of the players talked about how playing outside took them back to the old days of playing out on the neighborhood rinks. In front of a huge crowd that produced an absolutely electric atmosphere, the late-game heroics that always seem to work their way into childhood competition became a reality for Smith.
“When a young player is out on the backdoor rink, all they think about is winning the Stanley Cup.” Smith said. “This is pretty damn close.”
It was great to see the Badgers pull it out for such a special game. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!

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