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Badgers put title on ice

ON WISCONSIN <b>Badger skaters show of the 1983 NCAA Championship trophy following a 6-2 win over Harvard.</b>
Badger skaters show of the 1983 NCAA Championship trophy following a 6-2 win over Harvard.

March 26, 1983

By Glenn Miller, The Wisconsin State Journal

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Wisconsin won its fourth National Collegiate Athletic Association hockey championship Saturday night, defeating Harvard, 6-2, with a final-period flurry in which the Badgers scored four goals.

More than any other person, goalie Marc Behrend won the game with still another spectacular performance in the nets.
His saves were fewer than his opponent’s, Grant Blair of Harvard. Behrend had 24, Blair 31.

But Behrend was tough in the first two periods, when Wisconsin nursed one- and two-goal leads. In the final period, Wisconsin blew the game open with goals by Paul Houston, Bruce Driver, Houston and John Johannson. Johannson scored his goal in an empty net.

The celebration on the ice after it was over lasted even longer than you saw on television. After the interviews and after the trophy presentations, Wisconsin still celebrated and danced its victory dance.

It was particularly a sweet victory for Coach Jeff Sauer, who came to Wisconsin with a losing record at Colorado College and really should not have been expected to produce a winner in his first year.

As he waited for the trophy, he mopped his face the same way his predecessor, Bob Johnson, used to.

Sauer, in a quick interview, said once his team was ahead, 2-0, “we wanted to play a good defensive game.”

Behrend, who seems to save his best hockey for postseason play, was named the tournament’s most valuable player, the same honor he won when the Badgers won the title in 1981 in Duluth, Minn.

Behrend declined to differentiate between the victory he orchestrated in 1981 and this one.

“They are both pretty special,” Behrend said, but he admitted this run for the national roses was a bit of a surprise.“There is no way I thought at the start of this year that we would go all the way,” he said. “I thought that this would be a transition year and that I would simply have to be happy with it.

“And don’t forget we had a lot of injuries. But we came together at the end when it was important.”

On the final, he said, “When we got ahead, I may have lost a little concentration.”

Well, it wasn’t too bad. Behrend finally gave up two goals in the final period.

When all of the festivities on the ice were over, the Wisconsin team skated around the rink and saluted its fans, who were here in greater numbers than on Thursday. The Badgers raised their sticks in salute first to the Wisconsin band and then to the block of Badger rooters. The crowd, of course, went wild.

Sauer, pausing long enough to analyze the victory, said: “We were stronger and bigger, and we were able to use that strength to win.”

On his first victory in an NCAA tournament, Sauer said, “I’ve waited a long time for that. I am so happy I came back to Wisconsin. It worked out.”

While Behrend was named the tournament’s MVP, Paul Houck, Chris Chelios and Pat Flatley were also named to the all-tournament team.

Flatley got Wisconsin off to a  first-period lead on a power-play goal seven minutes, nine seconds into the game, and for a while it looked as if the final might be another 1-0 struggle like the Badgers went through with Providence Thursday.

But at 16:09 of the second period, Flatley grabbed the puck in a melee in front of the Harvard net and fired it in for the 2-0 lead.

Things looked even better when Houston pushed in a rebound only three minutes into the final period.

It looked like a piece of cake.

But Harvard was playing like it wanted to win a national championship, too, and when it closed the margin to 4-2, the issue was still in doubt.

The big goal by Houston on a power play at 18:36 put Wisconsin ahead, 5-2.

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