The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team (0-2, 0-0 Big Ten) entered the first weekend of the 2021-2022 season as the nation’s 13th ranked team. They will not maintain this position nor improve on it for next week’s series.
They dropped both games at the Kohl Center to the Michigan Tech Huskies (2-0, 0-0 CCHA) by a combined score of 10-3. While this is not the start Badgers Coach Tony Granato and the team hoped for, they still have two weeks until their conference schedule begins with the Michigan Wolverines, the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten.
In the first game of the series and season, the Badgers started very strong — netting the first goal of the game only a minute and 13 seconds in. The goal came from freshman forward Caden Brown, his first collegiate tally. Despite this aggressive start from Wisconsin, they were unable to hold onto the lead for the rest of the opening frame. The Huskies responded with a goal of their own on a power play to tie the game at one-to-one with ten minutes left in the first period.
The second period was one to forget for the Badgers, especially on the defensive side. They allowed four goals in the period and only scored one of their own. The Huskies’ Brian Halonen, Logan Pietila and Alec Broetzman netted the shots.
Sophomore forward Mathieu De St. Phalle scored the goal for Wisconsin. There were no goals on either side in the third period and Michigan Tech finished off a commanding 5-2 win. Sophomore goalkeeper Cameron Rowe allowed all five Michigan Tech goals in the loss and was replaced by backup Jared Moe.
In the second game, Moe started in net after a successful relief appearance. His success from Friday did not carry over, however. The Huskies were able to carry over their momentum from the night before, jumping out to a 5-0 lead after just about 23 minutes of play.
The Badgers had no response to this flurry of goals and showed a lack of structure defensively. They were able to get on the board early in the third period to decrease the deficit to four goals.
Michigan Tech neutralized the Wisconsin attack for the rest of the period, closing out a 5-1 win and a series sweep. Senior forward and alternate captain Dominick Mersch scored the lone goal in the defeat. All three Badger goalkeepers saw the ice in the game, but Moe was credited with the loss.
The team will have to bounce back quickly from this setback at the hands of the Huskies as Army will visit the Kohl Center Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 before the Badgers hit the road for two weeks.