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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Senior John Mitchell (Neenah, Wis.) scored two goals to lead the Wisconsin men’s hockey team past St. Cloud State 5-3 and give the Badgers their first Frozen Four appearance since winning the national title in 2006.
Wisconsin (27-10-4) is slated to face RIT (28-11-1) in the semifinal round of the 2010 Frozen Four in Detroit on April 8. The Badgers will make their 11th Frozen Four appearance in program history.
In addition to Mitchell’s two-goal effort, senior Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn.) had a goal and two assists in the sixth meeting between UW and St. Cloud this season. Sophomore defenseman Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka, Minn.) chipped in a goal and an assist, and senior Andy Bohmbach (Hudson, Wis.) and freshman Craig Smith (Madison, Wis.) each tallied two assists as well.
The Badgers led 4-2 late in the third period, but St. Cloud (24-14-5) made it a one-goal game when Tony Mosey solved UW goaltender Scott Gudmandson with 2:50 remaining. However, with St. Cloud skating an extra attacker, senior Aaron Bendickson (Thief River Falls, Minn.) buried an empty-net goal with 1:08 remaining to seal the Badger victory.
UW outshot the Huskies 44-29. Gudmandson made 26 saves and improved to 19-4-4 while St. Cloud goaltenders Mike Lee and Dan Dunn combined for 39 saves. Lee made eight and surrendered three UW goals in the game’s opening 15:21 before Dunn took over, making 31 saves on 32 UW shots.
The Badgers took an early lead as Mitchell redirected a pass from Bohmbach to put UW up 1-0 at the 2:31 mark of the first period. Jordy Murray (Faribault, Minn.) also picked up an assist on the play. With tonight’s victory, Wisconsin improved to 18-2-1 when scoring the first goal this season.
Geoffrion extended Wisconsin’s lead to 2-0 when he scored his 27th goal of the season off a rebound from Ryan McDonagh (Arden Hills, Minn.) with 6:42 remaining in the first period.
Just 90 seconds later, St. Cloud cut the UW lead in half as Jared Festler scored on assists from Ryan Lasch and Aaron Marvin.
The Badgers responded quickly and regained the two-goal lead when Gardiner buried a rebound from Smith and Geoffrion with 4:39 remaining in the opening stanza.
The teams skated to a scoreless second period, just the second scoreless frame in 18 periods of hockey between the two teams this season. The Badgers killed back-to-back penalties, including 24 seconds of a two-man advantage for the Huskies late in the period.
Early in the third period, Festler netted a short-handed goal for St. Cloud, tallying his second goal of the game. Festler capitalized on a UW turnover and beat Gudmandson on his own rebound with 15:44 remaining.
Mitchell then made it 4-2 Wisconsin, scoring his second goal of the game with 13:06 to play. Bohmbach skated to the corner and threw the puck to the right side of the net where Mitchell skated on and buried the rebound.
Desperate for their first Frozen Four appearance in program history, the Huskies pressured the Badgers late in the game but Gudmandson remained strong between the pipes.
Wisconsin was 0-for-6 on the power play while holding St. Cloud to 0-for-7 with the man advantage.
The Badgers will meet RIT for the first time in program history in the semifinal round of the 2010 Frozen Four in Detroit on April 8. The remaining two Frozen Four participants will be determined on Sunday as Yale and Boston College play at 4:30 p.m. and Miami and Michigan face off at 7 p.m.