Posted-March 12th, 2012 3:43 pm
DENVER -- Nine periods of hockey proved inadequate for Wisconsin and Denver to decide who would advance to the 2012 WCHA Final Five next weekend. So with the score tied 2-2 and the series locked up at one game apiece Sunday night in Denver, the Badgers (17-18-2, 11-15-2 WCHA) and Pioneers (23-12-4, 16-8-4 WCHA) went to overtime.
But just 1:40 into the overtime period, Luke Salazar and the Pioneers put the game-winning shot in on a wrap-around. The tally gave DU a 3-2 victory in the best-of-three series and brought an end to the Badgers’ season.
Wisconsin took the lead first Sunday night when sophomore Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) scored a short-handed goal 6:40 into the second period. Zengerle put the puck in the net unassisted with a sharp-angle wrister from the right wing.
The goal gave Zengerle 50 points on the season and was the first tally in the series outside of the third period.
With 8:43 left in the second period though, Ty Loney tied the game up for Denver on a rebound goal, making the Badgers pay for a neutral-zone turnover.
That apparently didn’t sit well with Wisconsin, and just over a minute later the Badgers took the lead back on a goal from sophomore Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Minn.). Barnes centered the puck from behind the Denver goal line and it banked off DU goalie Sam Brittain and into the net. The score gave UW a 2-1 lead.
Sophomore defenseman Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville, Ill.) and junior defenseman Justin Schultz (West Kelowna, British Columbia) got assists on the play.
The Badgers took that 2-1 lead into the second intermission, but two minutes into the final period, Nick Shore scored the equalizer for the Pioneers after taking a rebound off the post behind UW goalie Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) and knocking it home.
Both teams were held scoreless for the remaining 18 minutes of the period, before Denver settled the deal with the overtime game winner.
“If you look at where we came from from the beginning of the year, we’ve come miles,” Schultz said of the Badgers’ season. “If we did have a couple more games, we’d be a dominating force.”
Freshman goalie Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) saved 30 shots Sunday night and finished the weekend with 96 saves on 101 shots.
Denver outshot the Badgers, 33-26.