The No. 16 University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team returned home this weekend and split a two-game series against the Michigan Tech Huskies. In a weekend which saw 16 goals, a combined 97 penalty minutes and countless scuffles after the whistle, the final score of the two games did not tell the whole story.
The Badgers started off the first game hot, scoring a goal three minutes into the game after a Michigan Tech penalty, the beginning of what would be a significant trend for the rest of the weekend. The goal was scored by senior forward Seamus Malone, his second of the year and the fifth power play goal scored by the Badgers on the season. Though they struck early, their lead did not last long.
Only 20 seconds after the Badgers took the lead, the tide of the game changed completely. Wisconsin forward Tarek Baker elbowed a Michigan Tech player and ejected from the game, beginning a chippy weekend for both teams. During the five minute major penalty committed by Baker, Michigan Tech evened the score, and rode the momentum from the goal for the rest of the period and the rest of the game.
The first period ended with Michigan Tech leading 3–1. Despite only having two more shots on goal than Wisconsin, the Huskies were two for three on power play opportunities, trumping the Badgers’ one of two. The second and third periods shared a similar story.
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The rest of the game continued to see mistakes kill the Badgers, as Michigan Tech scored on three more power plays, and eventually won the game 6–2. The game concluded with faceoff wins and shots on goal close to even in the box score, but Michigan Tech’s five for eight record on power plays proved to be the difference in the end, besting the Badgers one for four.
Game two was a mirror image of the first, but this time with Wisconsin ended on the other side of the 6–2 result. As with the identical final score, the second game shared many similarities with the first, but with Wisconsin benefited from countless Michigan Tech mistakes rather than the other way around.
For the second time in as many nights, the Badgers opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period. This time the goal came from junior forward Max Zimmer, his first goal of the young season. The first period as a whole was a back and forth affair, and ended with the score even at 2–2, again with three of the four goals coming on odd-man advantages.
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Wisconsin began the second period shorthanded after a penalty with six seconds left in the first period, not a situation they would’ve liked to be in after the results from a night ago. Twenty-five seconds into the period, however, Badgers forward Roman Ahcan netted a shorthanded goal, putting the Badgers up 3–2. They took this lead all the way to the final horn, scoring two more goals in the second and adding another in the third.
One of the biggest storylines from the victory was the play of freshman goalie Daniel Lebedeff, who started after Jack Berry’s struggles the night before.
“It was his first home game here,” head coach Tony Granato said when talking to UW Athletics after the game. “It is playing a game after our team lost we needed a big performance out of him, and he stood tall.”
The 4-2 Badgers will continue their season next weekend on the road against No. 17 North Dakota.