Montreal Canadiens: Cole Caufield Helps Wisconsin Beat Undefeated Minnesota

EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 04: Cole Caufield (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - JANUARY 04: Cole Caufield (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield helps beat undefeated team.

Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield returned to action in the NCAA last night. He had been away for a few weeks to represent his country at the World Juniors.

Caufield helped USA win a gold medal at the event, scoring two goals and five points in seven games and playing a terrific two-way game on a second line with Matt Boldy and Matthew Beniers.

He was back in his home state of Wisconsin last night and had another difficult opponent to face. Maybe not quite as difficult as Team Canada at the World Juniors, but Wisconsin was hosting Minnesota who are ranked #1 in the nation and entered the game with a perfect 10-0 record.

Wisconsin had an uneven first half of the season. They finished with a 5-5-0 record in ten games played before Christmas and were ranked 14th in the country. There were a few reasons for more optimism from the Badgers in the second half as they were missing key players for most of their first ten games.

First of all, Wisconsin was without its top two centres for most of the first half. Dylan Holloway scored two goals in two games and then left to join Canada in Edmonton to prepare for the World Juniors. Ty Pelton-Byce, who centres the team’s first line and plays with Caufield, only played three games as he was injured.

A Covid-19 exposure also took a handful of key players out for four games, including Roman Ahcan who was the team’s MVP last season.

With a full lineup last night, Wisconsin was facing its toughest test possible. Minnesota was 10-0-0 on the season and had 39 first place votes out of 40 voters in the most recent rankings.

The game was scoreless in the second period when Caufield sent linemates Linus Weissbach and Tarek Baker, who had just hopped on the ice for Pelton-Byce, in on a 2-on-1 with an outlet pass. Baker made a great play to get the puck to Weissbach who was cruising toward the net and he made no mistake beating the goaltender.

Caufield had a couple more chances but didn’t convert in this game. Wisconsin would make it 2-0, before allowing a third period goal and then clinching the game with a late empty netter. Caufield now has six goals, seven assists and 13 points in 11 NCAA games this season.

Starting the second half with a big win over the top ranked team in the country should provide quite a spark for a talented, yet underachieving team thus far. Wisconsin will host Minnesota again today so they have no time to dwell on their big win.

Caufield's WJC usage shows defensive growth. dark. Next

Another victory today would put teams on notice as the untapped potential of Caufield’s college team could be realized in the second half of this season.