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If Saturday’s game between Michigan Tech and Wisconsin in Green Bay didn’t already have enough meaning, it now has a little bit more.
The Huskies will be looking to regain control of eighth place after the Badgers beat them, 3-2, Friday night at MacInnes Arena and temporarily took over sole possession of eighth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
UW defenseman Brian Fahey scored a power-play goal on a blast from the point with 4:35 left in the game, snapping a 2-2 tie and sending the Badgers to victory.
“We need to learn to win,” Tech captain Brett Engelhardt said. “We just don’t have that killer instinct.”
Chris Conner had a goal and an assist for Tech (9-20-4, 6-16-3 WCHA). Conner had tied the score just seven seconds into the third period. He beat his man out of the face-off circle, skated in and tucked the puck between UW goaltender Bernd Bruckler’s pads for his 11th goal of the season.
Forty-three seconds later, the Badgers’ Andy Wozniewski went off for hooking and the Huskies went on the power play. But Tech managed just one shot on goal during the advantage and had a total of only seven in the third period.
“We had our chances,” Conner said. “It didn’t go our way tonight.”
Freshman Ryan MacMurchy scored twice for Wisconsin (12-19-4, 6-15-4). Bruckler, a native of Austria, made 18 saves.
Tech played without leading scorer Colin Murphy, winger Frank Werner and 6-foot-7 defenseman John Scott. Sertich sat the three for a violation of team rules. They’re expected to be back in the lineup tonight.
Freshman goaltender Rick Cazares made his second consecutive start after getting only one start in the first 31 games of the season. The San Jose, Calif., native stopped 23 shots.
“He did everything we could ask of him,” Engelhardt said.
Wisconsin played without captain Brad Winchester, who was suspended for the weekend after being involved in a brawl and reportedly punching a police officer outside a popular Madison tavern last Saturday night. The Badgers also were without top playmaker Alex Leavitt, who hasn’t played since he went public about an incident with UW coach Mike Eaves. Eaves allegedly initiated physical contact with the player during a tirade in a Grand Forks, N.D., hotel room earlier this season and recently had an official reprimand placed in his file. Meanwhile, Leavitt is done for the season, Eaves announced Friday.
“Once you get to the rink, you’ve got to be focused,” Eaves said.
MacMurchy gave the Badgers a 1-0 lead at 6:51 of the opening period, but Clay Wilson tied it at 9:17. After a flurry in front of the Wisconsin net, the Badgers unsuccessfully tried to clear the puck, and Wilson intercepted it and fired a shot high into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
UW took a 2-1 lead 4:30 into the second period when MacMurchy scored his second of the game, this time on the power play. Tom Gilbert sent a pass from the corner out front to MacMurchy, who flipped a shot upstairs.
Now the series shifts to the sparkling new 8,800-seat Resch Center, which sits in the shadow of Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
Engelhardt, a native of Sheboygan, Wis., expects more than 20 family members and friends to attend the sold-out game.
“Going home is nice, but we need to win the game,” he said.
Friday’s game was played in front of a rather quiet crowd of 1,906. Many of the Tech students had already left town for home or destinations like Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean for spring break, which runs through next weekend. In addition, only a few members of the pep band remained for the game.
“It’ll be a little bit different of an atmosphere tomorrow night,” Eaves said.
Seniors Greg Amadio, Chris Durno and Chuck Fabry were recognized in a ceremony during the first intermission. The moment clearly belonged to Fabry, who was introduced as a kid aspiring to “run a large casino” someday.
Wisconsin, a Big Ten school with deep pockets, flew to Green Bay late Friday. Tech, meanwhile, will bus to the game early Saturday afternoon.