Dec 13, 2013 10:59 PM by Jordan Mason
Winning the battle of special teams on Friday, the University of Wisconsin also prevailed on the scoreboard.
The 15th-ranked Badgers sandwiched a pair of power-play goals around a shorthanded tally by Colorado College's Alexander Krushelnyski in the second period, killed a pair of extended 5-on-3 opportunities by CC in the third, and skated off with a 4-1 victory in the opener of their two-game series at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
The nationally televised non-conference contest was the first between the longtime WCHA rivals as members of their new leagues.
The Tigers, who are fifth in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with a 2-5-3-1 record, dropped to 2-11-3 overall. Wisconsin, 2-2-0 and third in the Big Ten standings, improved to 7-5-1 overall heading into Saturday's rematch.
Each team plunked a shot off a pipe behind the opposing goaltender in the first period, but neither was able to turn on the red light. CC senior Josh Thorimbert, who finished with 26 saves in the loss, made seven of them in that scoreless opening 20 minutes of play.
The Badgers capitalized late during the game's first power play to grab a 1-0 lead midway through the second frame. With just one second remaining in the man advantage, junior Joseph LaBate unleashed a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that fluttered over the shoulder of a partially screened Thorimbert at 8:17.
Colorado College took three more penalties in the period, and during the second one, Krushelnyski picked off an errant UW pass near his own blue line and soloed in to beat junior netminder Joel Rumpel on the stick side. It was the seventh shorthanded goal of Krushelnyski's collegiate career.
After CC's fourth minor of the stanza, however, Wisconsin was able to regain the lead for good with 1.1 seconds showing on the clock. Sophomore forward Nic Kerdiles, the player who drew three of the infractions against the visitors, banged home a loose puck after a wild scramble behind and to the right of the Tigers cage.
Senior Michael Mersch struck with the teams at even strength 5:14 into the third period, firing into an open net after a loose puck squirted to him through traffic in front, to make it 3-1.
CC enjoyed back-to-back 5-on-3 manpower advantages of more than 50 seconds apiece later in the period, but could not beat Rumpel again.
Senior defenseman Frankie Simonelli added a length-of-the-ice empty-netter at 19:51 to wrap up the triumph for the Badgers.
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