MADISON, Wis. -- A goal by freshman Joseph LaBate (Eagan, Minn.) with just over four minutes remaining in the game broke a 2-2 tie and lifted the Badgers (12-10-2, 7-9-2 WCHA) to a win Saturday night and a weekend sweep over Alaska Anchorage (6-14-2, 3-14-1 WCHA) at the Kohl Center.
With the game tied at two and just over four minutes left in the third period, junior Justin Schultz (West Kelowna, B.C.) and LaBate took off on the rush. After LaBate got the puck from linemate Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) inside the UW blue line, he skated through center ice, then dished off to Schultz streaking down the right wing. Schultz skated behind the goal line, then gave it back to LaBate in front for the score.
"Coach just told us to get pucks in the net and get pucks in deep and go from there," LaBate said. "I got the puck in the center from (Mark) Zengerle, a great pass from him, and I gave it to (Justin) Schultz who was streaking down the wing and I just went to the net, he put it on my stick and I put it in."
The goal lifted a tense crowd into celebration and a charging Badger team two games above .500 as the defense held strong for the final minutes of the contest. Wisconsin improved 7-2-1 in its last 10 contests.
Saturday evening's game began on a slow note, with no scoring in the first period. That trend carried over to the first few minutes of period number two until Alaska Anchorage finally broke through 3:36 into the period on a power-play goal.
Just 16 seconds later however, sophomore Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Minn.) tied the score up 1-1 with a goal of his own. LaBate and Zengerle assisted on the score.
"The first period I think we came out a little flat and coach got on us," Barnes said. "In the second period once they got that goal on that power play I think it sparked us."
The Badgers took the momentum from that goal and put the puck right back into the net just 1:03 later. Junior Derek Lee (North Vancouver B.C.) placed a shot high that glanced off UAA goalie Chris Kamal's head and into the net. Schultz and sophomore Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) tallied assists on the score.
The Seawolves had a quick answer of their own though, scoring the equalizer 6:51 into the period.
The second period scoring outburst that lasted just over three minutes and produced four goals between the two teams stood as the only scoring until LaBate's game-winner.
A night removed from his second career shutout, freshman goalie Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) notched 25 saves and his third win in the last four games. He improved his overall season record to 9-5-2 with the victory in goal.
The Badgers out-shot the Seawolves 29-27 on the night. Meanwhile, Wisconsin went 0-for-2 on the power play while UAA collected one goal on four opportunities with the man advantage.
"Sweeping in the WCHA is huge for us, and especially this time of year," Lee said. "In the new year we want to get to the top six and get home ice for the playoffs. It's huge for us right now."
The Badgers hit the road next weekend as they travel to North Dakota for a pair of games. Wisconsin sits just two points behind UND in the WCHA standings. The puck drops Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.