ST. PAUL, Minn. — Senior forward Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn.) scored the game-winning power-play goal with 44 seconds remaining in the second period as the Wisconsin men's hockey team defeated Vermont 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday night.
The top-seeded Badgers (26-10-4) advance to face No. 2-seed St. Cloud State in Saturday's West Regional final with a trip to the 2010 Frozen Four on the line. Wisconsin continues its pursuit of a seventh NCAA championship and looks to make its first Frozen Four appearance since winning the NCAA title in 2006.
The Badgers broke a 2-2 tie late in the second period when Geoffrion tallied his team-leading 26th goal and 14th power play goal of the season. Junior Brendan Smith (Mimico, Ontario) sent a pass across the blue line to freshman Justin Schultz (West Kelowna, B.C.), who quickly slid a behind-the-back pass to Geoffrion high in the slot. Geoffrion's wrister breezed past UVM goaltender Rob Madore to put UW up 3-2 with 44 seconds remaining in the second stanza.
Wisconsin improves to 26-10-4 with the win while Vermont finishes the season 17-16-7.
The Badgers opened the game 3-for-3 on the power play and finished the evening 3-for-8 with the man advantage. UW held Vermont to 1-for-5 with the extra man.
Wisconsin took an early 1-0 lead when Schultz scored from the point with a wrist shot just 5:51 into the game. Schultz scored after taking a feed from Geoffrion. Sophomore forward Derek Stepan (Hastings, Minn.) also picked up an assist on the power-play goal.
Less than two minutes later, the Catamounts responded with a goal by Dan Lawson. The blueliner scored when UW's Stepan crashed into goaltender Scott Gudmandson (Sherwood Park, Alberta) and the puck crossed the line during the ensuing pile up. The goal evened the score at 1-1 with 12:38 remaining in the first period.
The Catamounts then took a 2-1 lead, netting a power-play goal of the game at the 15:54 mark of opening stanza. Gudmandson made several key saves before Brian Roloff knocked in the rebound of a shot by Sebastian Stalberg.
Wisconsin trailed 2-1 after the first period but tallied two second period goals, including the eventual game-winner.
At the 4:02 mark of the middle frame, senior Michael Davies (St. Louis, Mo.) scored his seventh power-play goal of the season for the Badgers. Stepan sent a pass to Davies from behind the net, and Davies went top-shelf, evening the score at 2-2. Smith also assisted on the play.
Geoffrion gave Wisconsin the 3-2 lead late in the period, and the Badgers held on for the 3-2 win over the Catamounts.
Wisconsin outshot Vermont 42-30, including a 16-3 shot advantage in the second period. Madore made 39 saves for the Catamounts. Gudmandson tallied 28 saves and improves to 18-4-4 on the season.
The Badgers meet WCHA foe St. Cloud State (24-13-5) for the sixth time this season in Saturday's second round game. The Huskies defeated Northern Michigan 4-3 in double-overtime earlier on Friday night, marking SCSU's first national tournament victory and snapping an eight-game NCAA skid.
Wisconsin is 2-3 against St. Cloud this season, most recently falling to the Huskies 2-0 in the semifinal round of the WCHA Final Five on March 19.
Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The game will air live on ESPNU.