Minn. leaves Madison winless

A 3-1 loss Friday and 2-2 tie Saturday drop Minnesota to sixth place in the WCHA.

;”Bend, don’t break,” is a Wisconsin men’s hockey saying according to Badgers’ coach Mike Eaves.

And this weekend Wisconsin did just that – holding off the Gophers for a 3-1 win Friday night before scoring two unanswered goals Saturday to end the game in a 2-2 overtime tie.

Minnesota (12-11-5 overall, 6-9-3 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) played two solid games for the most part, the Badgers just caught more of the bounces – which is nothing new to senior forward Ben Gordon.

“I can’t explain how many times we’ve had it in our hands in the third period and lost it,” Gordon said. “A lot of times earlier in the year it was because of lack of effort and lack of confidence Ö lack of intensity. But (Saturday) it wasn’t that.”

Wisconsin (11-10-5, 7-8-3) came into the weekend tied with the Gophers and St. Cloud State for No. 5 in the conference, came out tied for fourth while the Gophers dropped to sixth with arguably its two toughest remaining opponents of the year coming in the next two weeks – North Dakota and Denver.

Johnson shines in finale

When Madison native and third-generation Wisconsin hockey player Patrick Johnson was announced as a starter Saturday night, the crowd erupted.

Unfortunately for the Gophers, the pregame introductions weren’t the only time the crowd celebrated the hometown hockey player.

Johnson, a freshman forward this year, scored the Badgers’ first goal Saturday to cut the deficit down to one goal in the second period.

While on the advantage, Johnson caught a cross-ice pass to the left of freshman goaltender Alex Kangas and slipped his shot into the net before the netminder could slide across the crease.

Then in the third, Johnson took a swipe at the puck in an effort keep the play in the Badgers’ offensive zone.

His shot, however, was perfectly on net, and with a deflection from sophomore forward Aaron Bendickson, Wisconsin was able to come from behind to tie the game.

And trailing late in the game isn’t necessarily a negative according to Eaves.

“(We’ve) been in positions where we’ve had to come back, and I think it has become one of our strengths,” Eaves said. “It’s one of the things that I think these boys believe it, that they can come back no matter what the score.”

Future Coyotes face off

The real winner this weekend may be neither team that competed – it could be the Phoenix Coyotes.

Both Minnesota junior forward Blake Wheeler and Wisconsin freshman forward Kyle Turris are draft picks of the organization, and both had impressive weekends.

Turris, the third overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, tallied two points this weekend – including the game-winning goal Friday night.

After Friday night’s win, Eaves said his team’s leading scorer “relishes big games,” and Turris certainly showed his centering abilities – winning 28 of the 40 faceoffs he fought for.

Meanwhile, Wheeler, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft, picked up two points of his own over the weekend.

Minnesota’s current point leader scored the Gophers lone goal Friday and assisted on Gordon’s goal Saturday night – points 23 and 24, respectively.

The two Phoenix prospects kept their heads cool in a weekend where tempers boiled over, according to Turris.

“We were joking around on faceoffs,” Turris said. “I asked him if he was going to let me win this one.”