UW men’s hockey secures first win of season

first_imgThe Wisconsin men’s hockey team has had a lot of learning moments since the season began, but had not translated those lessons into a win before this weekend.However, a loss away from tying the worst start in program history, the Badgers (1-8-1 overall) finally overcame their slow start and knocked off Ferris State 5-3 Saturday night at the Kohl Center.Like the first nine games of the season, the series finale against the Bulldogs (7-7-1) featured its fair share of ups and downs and adversity for UW to battle through. After trailing twice in the first period-and-a-half and giving up a third period lead for the second night in-a-row, Wisconsin seized an opportunity five minutes and 29 seconds into the final period to take the lead for good.In the final seconds of a power play, UW’s Grant Besse entered the zone along the right wing boards. Besse had the puck swept off his stick, but Joseph LaBate retrieved it on the right goal line and backhanded a pass into the slot. Badgers’ freshman defenseman Jack Dougherty was the only one in the vicinity of the puck and blasted a slap shot over the left shoulder of Bulldogs goaltender CJ Motte for what ended up being the game-winning goal.“It was a really weird play, I saw a rolling puck and I figured I could somewhat put it where I wanted to,” Dougherty said of his goal. “I just let it go, and there was a guy kind of close so I figured I might as well put a little quick release on it, and it happened to go in.”Wisconsin dug itself an early hole in the game, allowing a goal just three minutes and 54 seconds into the opening frame. But as was the occasion throughout the contest, UW fought back and scored its inaugural first period goal of the season to tie the game at one a little more than eight minutes later courtesy of Besse, who had two goals in the game.As head coach Mike Eaves discussed after the game, Wisconsin benefited from winning smaller battles throughout the game.“The thing that our guys did is they built on little victories during the course of the game, and we kept building and we got stronger as the game went on,” Eaves said. “You could feel the energy on the bench increase as the game went along.”Wisconsin went into the second period with the score knotted at one, but again Ferris State struck back and took the lead at the 7:22 mark of the second. This time though, the Badgers answered the goal immediately with one of their own when freshman Corbin McGuire netted his first career goal on assists from Matt Ustaski and Jake Linhart just 37 seconds later.Wisconsin notched another goal with just one minute and 44 seconds left in the second to take the lead into the locker room going into the third period for the second consecutive night.However, the Bulldogs scored first in the final period just like they had done in the previous two to tie the score for the third time. But after that goal two minutes and nine seconds in, Wisconsin answered yet again with Dougherty’s goal three minutes later to gain the lead along with the highest scoring output of the season to date.Besse would seal the Badgers’ first win with an empty netter in the final two minutes, while UW goaltender Joel Rumpel tallied 30 saves to earn his 50th career victory.“You watch a lot of pro athletes that when they haven’t scored for a while and they get that goal, they reach back and drop the monkey off their back,” Eaves said. “We can do that collectively as a group tonight because of the win.”Despite not registering a win Friday night, the Badgers ended their season-opening losing streak at eight with a tie against the Bulldogs.Unlike Saturday night’s high scoring affair, the first game of the series featured a goaltending battle between Wisconsin’s Rumpel and Ferris State’s Motte.Wisconsin outshot the Bulldogs 8-7 in the opening frame, and Motte made several impressive saves, including one with the toe of his right pad to keep the game scoreless after the first 20 minutes.Then in the second, Ferris State took control of the game and had 11 shots on Rumpel, which included several quality scoring chances. Rumpel, a Hobey Baker award finalist a season ago, came up big for his team with saves on each of those 11 shots and had some big glove stops to keep up his end of the shutout.Wisconsin took the lead a little more than two minutes into the final period, but the Bulldogs seized control of the game for the remainder of regulation into overtime. The Badgers mustered just three more shots after their goal, and although Ferris State scored at 7:29 to tie the game at one, Rumpel came up huge to help the Badgers salvage the tie.After the series finale Saturday, Eaves assessed the senior netminder’s play over the two games.“It was good all weekend,” Eaves said. “You can just put an A+ for his efforts this weekend. He was there when we needed him. Again, Joel is going to cover up a lot of mistakes that we make in front of him and he did that a lot tonight for us. He was a big part of the equation in asserting the victory.”Not only did Rumpel stop the 17 shots between the third period and overtime to give the Badgers their first non-loss of the year, but he also stonewalled each of the Bulldogs’ three chances in the shootout to conclude one of his better performances of the season.With an all-around effort from Rumpel and what had been an anemic offense, UW finally got into the win column this weekend, hoping to build off the triumph and make another turnaround from a slow start to the season.“It’s been a long time coming,” forward Matt Paape said. “I know we’ve got a young team, but hats off to the young guys and the older guys for sticking through it, staying together, keep battling against each other each week in practice. It was definitely a good win for us, and it was nice to be able to earn it.”last_img

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