For two periods, the boys put last night’s throttling behind them and give Wisconsin everything they could handle. But the margin of error is so small in a place like the Kohl Center, and it slipped away in the third as the Chargers lost 4-1 on Friday.
On the onset, the Chargers didn’t let the Badgers dictate the game like they did in rolling 5-0 on Thursday. They chased the puck and Wisconsin with more energy. UAH also fired the puck more, getting eight shots on goal – one short of the nine they had in all of game one (a Wisconsin school record for shots on goal allowed).
The turning point in the period came with 1:20 left. Michael Mersch, who had two goals in the first game, hit an oncoming Graeme Strukoff with his elbow for one penalty. Meanwhile, Joseph Labate was called for another elbowing penalty high on Brice Geoffrion (although Labate’s six-inch height advantage played a factor).
With the two-man advantage, UAH struck first. Frank Misuraca’s pass through traffic found Michael Webley, whose second whack on the puck got past UW goalie Joel Rumpel to give the Chargers a 1-0 lead.
The emotion and energy carried into the second period, but the Badgers found a way to take the lead. At 2:25, Mersch’s wrister from the slot was initially saved by Griggs, but Labate knocked in the rebound to tie the game.
After UW’s Nic Kerdiles and UAH’s Chad Brears went off for roughing, the Badgers took the lead on the ensuing 4-on-4 with some nifty passing. Mersch passed to his right to Derek Lee, who centered it back to Kevin Schulze, who fires it past Griggs at 13:14.
After Thursday’s rout, being within one goal entering the final frame was an encouraging situation. And the boys stayed with the Badgers for most of the first 10 minutes. Plus, Kerdiles’ check from behind on Alex Allen gave UAH a five-minute power play.
However, the Chargers’ advantage was quickly dispatched, and it all went downhill from there. Derek Lee’s goal – after stealing a pass right in front of Griggs – with 7:25 to go gave the Badgers a 3-1 lead and crushed UAH’s chances for a rally.
Brandon Woods then capped off the scoring, rifling a shot past Griggs on a 2-on-1 break. Wisconsin outshot UAH 11-4 in that decisive third period, and 30-22 for the game.
Finally, a break for the boys as they are off for the first time all season next week. Then, another major challenge: Top-ranked Boston College at the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis on Dec. 29, followed by Air Force on Dec. 30.