BRYAN FAUST/Herald PhotoMILWAUKEE — Badger smiles lit downtown Milwaukee Thursday night as the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team defeated the Black Bears of Maine 5-2 to advance to the Frozen Four final for the first time since 1992.The 17,691 fans in attendance at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee saw a Badger team overcome big-game jitters and a less-than-perfect performance on defense with outstanding special teams.”Specialty teams are so huge in college hockey,” defenseman Tom Gilbert said. “It gives us momentum to go back out there five-on-five and know that if we do get a penalty, we’re going to go out there and kill it off.”Special teams played an important role for the Badgers early, as they found themselves shorthanded six times in the first two periods but killed all six Maine power plays.An even-handed goal by Adam Burish broke the early tie, while both teams seemed to be in a feeling-out process. Burish took a pass from Joe Pavelski on the right side of the net, but Maine goaltender Ben Bishop closed off the angle. Burish’s attempt to pass the puck across the crease took a fortuitous bounce off Black Bear defenseman Travis Wight’s shin pad and into the net.Maine answered with an unusual goal of its own seven minutes later. With the Black Bears on the attack, Maine forward Michel Leveille skated across the blue line full-speed and took a shot from between the circles. His shot bounced off the right skate of Badger defenseman Matt Olinger, who was playing in front of Elliott, bounced around underneath Elliott’s pads and slid past the goal line.Special teams was the name of the game in the second frame. Early in the period and with Gilbert in the penalty box, Ross Carlson stole the puck at the blue line and raced into the Black Bear zone with only defenseman Bret Tyler to beat. Tyler poked the puck away from Carlson briefly, but Carlson quickly gathered it up and wristed a liner underneath Bishop’s pads.”It meant a lot to our team to get that shorthanded goal and just keep rolling,” Carlson said. “We didn’t let them win one-on-one battles very much, so that was a big thing for us.”Carlson’s goal gave the Badgers a 2-1 lead and some momentum, which neither team had really gained up to that point in the game.Earl kept that energy going for the Badgers with another special-teams goal, this time on the power play. After an Elliott save neutralized a Maine shorthanded opportunity, things quickly turned the other direction, and Earl and Burish found themselves in a two-on-one breakaway. Earl carried the puck into the zone and took a shot that rifled through Bishop’s five-hole.It looked like the Badgers were on their way to victory, but after they failed to take advantage of a five-on-three power play at the beginning of the third period, their train began to slow.Maine brought it to almost a complete stop with a goal from Mike Lundin. Greg Moore fed Lundin the puck at the left circle, which Lundin shot past Badger goalie Brian Elliott’s glove side.Maine’s hopes were quickly squelched by a wacky Ben Street goal at 12:26 to give the Badgers a 4-2 lead. Street took a shot from the left side that was denied by Bishop, but after Carlson skated in and made an attempt of his own, he finally pounded it in with a backhander.”The thing was just laying there for me to put in,” Street said. “I was coming in too fast, but then I kind of gathered myself and stopped and then got some composure and buried the backhand.”The obviously pro-Wisconsin crowd lifted the Badgers all night, and when Earl put in an empty netter, the Bradley Center erupted with the joy that only a winning crowd can exude.”It was outstanding,” Burish said of the crowd. “Any time you have that support, it gives an extra boost, an extra push.”The Badgers also got another exceptional performance from Elliott in net. He saved 32 of 34 shots on the night, and one of the goals he gave up was really no fault of his own.”Brian’s got the philosophy he’s going to stop the ones he should, and three out of the five he shouldn’t,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “Tonight, that was his formula.”With Maine’s first goal, Elliott’s shutout streak ended at 269:52, which began against North Dakota March 17 and stretched over five games. That streak set a Badger and WCHA record.When the Badgers play Boston College in the Frozen Four final Saturday night, they will have a chance to set another record. Should they win, Wisconsin will be the first school in NCAA history to win both the men’s and women’s hockey national titles in the same season.”We’re playing on Saturday, so why not win it?” Street asked after Thursday’s game.