ST. PAUL, Minn. - Hobey Baker Finalist Blake Geoffrion scored the game-winning goal on the power play and added an assist to lead No. 5 Wisconsin to a 3-2 victory against No. 14 Vermont at the Xcel Energy Center in the NCAA West Regional in a game televised on ESPNU on Friday night.
The top-seeded Badgers overcame a 2-1 first period deficit to improve to 26-10-4 on the season as they advanced to the West Regional Championship game on Saturday against second-seeded St. Cloud State. The Catamounts ended their season at 17-15-7 with the loss.
"I want to congratulate Wisconsin on a hard fought win tonight," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "I'm proud of our team. I thought that we competed right to the final buzzer. The season had ups and downs for us and I think in this game we had some adversity. We had a few guys go down with injuries and a short bench but I am just so proud of our guys. These are terrific young men that are going to do very well, our seniors in particular, are going to do very well, not only in their hockey futures but in life in general because of the quality of their character."
Junior Dan Lawson (Oak Forest, Ill.) scored a goal and had an assist for the Catamounts. Senior co-captain Brian Roloff (West Seneca, N.Y.) also scored a goal. Sophomore Rob Madore (Pittsburgh, Pa.) made 39 saves.
Senior Michael Davies and freshman Justin Schultz added power-play goals for the Badgers. Junior Scott Gudmandson turned away 28 shots.
Schultz made it 1-0 Wisconsin at 5:51 of the opening period with a wrist shot from the point. Geoffrion and sophomore Blake Stepan each assisted on the first of three power-play goals for the Badgers.
Vermont tied the game 1-1 at 7:22 of the first. Lawson maneuvered to the bottom of the right circle and fired a wrist shot that Gudmandson stopped but he fell on the puck and slid into the net. Initially the play was ruled no goal, but after a video replay Lawson was credited with his first goal since his game winner in double overtime against Air Force in the East Regional championship game last March.
The Catamounts went in front 2-1 at 15:44 on Roloff's ninth goal of the season. Roloff tracked down a rebound at the right circle after a scrum in front and fired a wrist shot past Gudmandson. Freshman Sebastian Stalberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) and Lawson both assisted.
"We were certainly very happy with the lead," Roloff said. "But we knew there was a lot of time left, anything can happen with two periods left. Having an older team we didn't get to up on it, we were just trying to keep getting it done."
Wisconsin turned the play in its favor in the second period out shooting Vermont 16-3. Davies tied the game for the Badgers at 4:02 with his 19th goal of the season. With the Badgers on the power play, Davies lifted a shot over the shoulder of Madore from the bottom of the left circle to make it 2-2.
Geoffrion gave Wisconsin a 3-2 lead with just 44 seconds remaining in the period with his team leading 26th goal of the season. Geoffrion took a backhanded feed from Justin Schultz between the circles and beat Madore for the third power-play goal of the contest for the Badgers.
Vermont had two chances to tie the game with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period. Roloff took backhanded pass from Wahsontiio Stacey (Kahnawake, Quebec) in the low slot but Gundmandson made a left pad save. With less than 5 minutes left, senior Brayden Irwin (Toronto, Ont.) had his redirection from between the circles stopped by Gundmandson.
The Catamounts pulled Madore with just under 2 minutes remaining but couldn't find the equalizer.
Wisconsin finished 3-for-8 on the power play while Vermont was 1-for-5. The Badgers out shot the Catamounts 42-30.
NOTES: Check back to www.UVMathletics.com for game highlights and postgame comments from Brian Roloff and Colin Vock ... Vermont dropped to 3-6 all-time in the NCAA Tournament ... Wisconsin is playing in its 23rd NCAA Tournament in program history ... The Catamounts dropped to 8-4 in one-goal games this season ... Vermont is 13-4 in its last 17 non-league games ... The Catamounts are 1-3 all-time against the Badgers.