Bennett stands tall for Badgers in game 2

first_imgAfter a 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Gophers Friday, Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves knew his team needed a shake-up.So Brett Bennett was given the start in-net for the Badgers Saturday, replacing Scott Gudmandson, who owned the WCHA’s top marks in goals against average and save percentage heading into the weekend.The switch paid off.Bennett made 28 saves and played one of his best games of the year to lead the Badgers to a much-needed tie with the rival Gophers.“Scott Gudmandson in his last few games has given up four goals and five goals and probably wasn’t as good as he had been, and with the effort that we had last night, it was time for a change. It was just, pure and simple, time for a change,” Eaves explained. “And the other ingredient in that decision was that [Bennett] has been good in practice. He deserves it based on the way he’s looked in practice, and he played terrific.”In the game’s critical moments, Bennett was at his best.Late in the second period, the Badgers took two penalties in quick succession, giving Minnesota just over one minute with a 5-on-3 power play.With the game tied at two-a-piece, the Gophers poured on the pressure with the two-man advantage, firing shots from all angles, but Bennett stood tall.“Without his effort, especially on the 5-on-3, I don’t know if we would’ve survived,” Eaves said.Bennett’s best save of the night came during that pressure-packed penalty kill as the senior netminder slid from post to post to make a diving save, preventing what appeared to be a wide-open scoring chance.“He definitely gave us a boost, especially in the second period when we were down a couple of guys for almost 1:30,” sophomore defenseman Justin Schultz said. “When he came flying across the crease and stopped that one, it was a huge part of the game. He played unbelievable tonight and I give a lot of credit to him.”Bennett was the Badgers’ best penalty killer during the 5-on-3 and throughout the game, but he was quick to praise the teammates in front of him who laid out to block some shots of their own.“Especially on that 5-on-3, guys were blocking a lot of shots. That goes a long way in the game,” Bennett said. “That puck might hit me, and then maybe a guy taps in a rebound or I don’t see it and it goes in. It’s just a team effort, and it’s huge on the penalty kill.”It’s been a tough season for Bennett, who has started only 10 games as a result of Gudmandson’s consistently effective play between the pipes. But in a game the Badgers couldn’t afford to lose, Bennett made a positive impact.There was a playoff atmosphere in the packed Kohl Center Saturday, and he rose to the challenge.“It was a good game. I wish I had a few back, of course, like every goalie that gets scored on,” Bennett said. “But it was too bad we couldn’t come out with the win. The guys really worked hard tonight, and it was a pleasure playing in front of the crowd. It was awesome.”last_img

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