As daylight disappeared at Camp Randall Stadium, the Michigan hockey team’s game had just begun. Playing outdoors for the first time since 2001, the Wolverines lost to Wisconsin 3-2 in front of 55,031 fans.

Michigan was a victim of pre-game jitters, giving up the first four shots of the game and the opening goal. Badger forward Craig Smith’s wrist shot caused the puck to squeak through junior goalie Bryan Hogan’s pads and lay unprotected in the crease. Smith’s teammate Jordy Murray deposited the puck into the back of the net.

The Wolverines settled down after and played a relatively even game throughout the rest of the first. They got their break with just over a minute left, when junior Ben Winnett gave a pass to junior Scooter Vaughan stationed in front of the crease. Vaughan’s first shot was stopped, but he was able to pick up his own rebound and put it into the back of the net to tie the game at one.

After a scoreless second period that included Wisconsin hitting the post on a breakaway, the Badgers took control of the third. Midway through the third, they missed on a backdoor play and Michigan started to gain some momentum.

Brian Lebler wrapped around the net and had two shots to beat Wisconsin goalie Scott Gudmandson but couldn’t do it, keeping the game tied.

Midway through the third, the floodgates opened.

First Kevin Lynch, let go of a laser wrist shot that beat Gudmandson clean on the right side. Just three minutes after that senior captain Chris Summers took a tripping penalty, giving the Badgers an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. They scored just 10 seconds into the power play.

Then, with the game tied and two minutes left in the game, Summers took another penalty, this time for slashing. Wisconsin defensemen Brendan Smith jumped down in the slot, received a pass and put the puck past Hogan’s glove, scoring his second goal in minutes. Smith’s second goal was eerily similar to the goal that tied the game.

Sophomore David Wohlberg was called for a goaltender interference penalty with just a minute left, effectively ending the Wolverines chances. As the horn sounded, the small Michigan contingent in the end zone disappeared. The remaining red-clad fans went into a frenzy, and for the Wolverines there is just one good thing they can take from this experience.

There’s always next year. The Wolverines will have their own Classic less than a year from now at the Big Chill at the Big House against Michigan State. But with a chance to win in the third period, the loss won’t be forgotten for a while.

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