After losing its first four home games this season, Wisconsin earned it’s first points at home finishing in a 1-1 overtime deadlock with Michigan Tech Friday night.
Having played the first two periods of the game to a scoreless tie, the breakthrough came at the 8:42 mark in the third period after a miscommunication in the Wisconsin defense allowed Michigan Tech’s Blake Pietila an easy tap-in right in front of the net.
“It was kind of a scramble and the puck went in the corner,” junior defenseman Frankie Simonelli said. “I was yelling for Jake [McCabe] to go up the wall. I’m not sure if he thought I was telling him to throw it behind the net, and then it went off their guy’s stick and they … put it in an open net.”
Fortunately for the Badgers, luck was on their side throughout the game.
After three Michigan Tech shots hit the pipes — two in the first period and one in the second — the Badgers could have fallen too far behind to salvage the game, but instead found themselves with the tying goal with less than five minutes remaining in the third period.
After a series of shots on Michigan Tech’s goal, junior right-winger Tyler Barnes provided the crucial shot on goal right in between the goaltender’s legs to save the team from yet another home loss and also earn his first goal of the season.
“It’s a big weight off my shoulders, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” Barnes said. “I was getting the chances so I couldn’t be too frustrated with myself, I mean we were getting pucks to the net. … Being able to get the one is nice.”
Perhaps more important than who scored the goal for the Badgers, was the circumstances in which it was scored.
Wisconsin has struggled through the first part of the season on the power play — garnering boos from its own fans during one power play Friday night — before the third-period power play goal finally gave the crowd what it wanted.
Friday night also marked the return of star junior center Mark Zengerle to the ice for the Badgers, as well as the debut of recently reinstated freshman left-winger Nic Kerdiles and Zengerle on the same line.
The Badgers will once again face Michigan Tech Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the second and final game of the series.