The Wisconsin Badgers made a quick trip down Interstate 94 to the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee, where they competed in the second annual Kwik Trip Holiday Face-Off.
The Badgers spread holiday cheer during Wednesday night’s Face-Off semifinal game, scoring four different skaters in UW’s 4-0 win over the Lake Superior State Lakers.
Wisconsin was unable to score the net in the contest’s negative opening frame despite having several good chances and taking 13-9 shots on goal advantage.
Minutes after both teams skated back on the ice in the second period, Badgers forward Brock Cofield got the plate. Mathieu de Saint Phalle got a feed from Cruz Lucious as he entered the offensive zone and threw the puck to Cofield, who untied a wrestler from the high hole at 2:36 to put Wisconsin ahead, 1-0.
Carson Buntle doubled Wisconsin’s lead at 7:02 in the second. With the Badgers on the power play, Lucius posted a deft kick block near the blue line to block LSSU’s attempt at a cleanup. The freshman sent the ball to De St. Phalle, who connected with Bantle on the far side to set up an easy goal.
After a short scoring pause, the Badgers extended their lead with 3:33 left in the closing frame. Forward Sam Stange caught a pass from teammate Curson Ceolemans and fired a backhand shot from the left circle to put the Lakers out of contention, 3-0.
UW’s Liam Malmquist scored an overtime goal, firing the ball from the neutral zone into an empty net at 18:08 in the third period.
Looking to replicate the results of the inaugural Kwik Trip Holiday Face-Off, Wisconsin came to Clarkson Thursday, intent on winning the championship for a year in a row. The Golden Knights had other plans, as they secured an early Never Give Up lead on their way to beating the Badgers, 3-1.
Similar to the night before, Wisconsin struggled to gain a foothold early in the contest - it wasn’t until 4:52 in the first period that the Badgers took their first shot of the night.
The Golden Knights fared much better in the opening frame, scoring the first goal of the evening at 8:35. Clarkson’s Chris Clack controlled the ball unchallenged and steered it home from between the circles to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Anthony Romano added to the Golden Knights’ lead with 13:26 left in the second period. With the Badgers down two men due to penalties assessed on Ben Dexheimer and Luke LaMaster, forward Clarkson scored once with just 12 seconds in the 5-on-3.
The Badgers responded with a goal of their own 10 minutes later. A 2-on-1 rush that happily swerved ended positively for UW, as Lucius hammered into a loose puck sitting in the crease to bring Wisconsin inside one, 2-1.
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UW goaltender Jared Moe was pulled for an extra tackle with 1:20 left in the third period, but the move did little to revitalize the Badger offense. An empty-netting goal by Eric Bargoltz with 5.1 seconds left in the game put the finishing touches to Clarkson’s 3–1 victory and championship victory.
Despite not winning this year’s Kwik Trip Holiday Face-Off, one Badger left the Fiserv forum with a fresh piece of hardware. Because of his strong play throughout the two-day tournament, Moe earned the nickname “The best goalkeeper. “
Next weekend, the Badgers will return home to the Cole Center for the first time in over a month. Games against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will start at 7 PM on Friday and 5:30 PM on Saturday.
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