A late goal by Denver defenseman Joey LaLeggia, with 1:16 left in regulation and Denver's goalie pulled, allowed Denver to salvage a point in the standings, and kept the Wisconsin Badgers winless in their last eight games, as the Pioneers tied Wisconsin 1-1 in Denver tonight.
LaLeggia fired an innocent looking shot from a poor angle at the bottom of the left circle, but the puck deflected off Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel and into the net to tie the game, after it looked very much like Wisconsin would escape with a 1-0 victory. The Badgers had taken the lead earlier in the period when Michael Mersch tipped a John Ramage shot from the point past Denver's Juho Olkinuora.The goal was Mersch's ninth of the year, meaning he's scored 47% of Wisconsin's goals this year.
Though LaLeggia's goal was the game's final tally, the five-minute overtime period was not without excitement. Wisconsin's Jefferson Dahl was called for tripping 2:09 into the overtime, but a strong penalty kill by the Badgers kept Denver stifled.Then, after coming out of the penalty box, Dahl picked up a long pass that sent him in alone on a breakaway, but he was denied by Olkinuora.
A tie on the road against perhaps the league's best team seems like a step in the right direction for the Badgers, but the ending to this one has to leave a bad taste in their mouth after being so close to their first victory since October 26th, only to have it slip away in the final two minutes of regulation. These two teams will meet again tomorrow evening.