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Men’s hockey: Badgers struggle late, get swept by Wolverines

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first_imgThe Wisconsin men’s hockey team had two chances this weekend to score a big upset win on the road against Michigan, but ended up leaving Ann Arbor empty handed.Wisconsin (4-22-4, 2-12-2 Big Ten) began their series with 17th-ranked Michigan (19-11-0, 11-5-0) Friday night by losing 3-0 to the Wolverines. While the Badgers played better Saturday, it still wasn’t enough to keep Michigan from running away in the final period.The Big Ten’s cellar dweller Wisconsin skated tough for two periods against the first-place Wolverines for much of the game Friday night, but were unable to take advantage of big opportunities early on. Unfortunately for the Badgers, they paid the price more than a minute into the second period when Zach Hyman scored an early second period goal to give Michigan a 1-0 that they would take into the third. After that, the co-leaders in the Big Ten standings never looked back.Less than five minutes into the third, Wolverines’ forward Zach Werenski vaulted a shot past Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel to extend Michigan’s lead to two.An empty-net goal by J.T. Compher in the final minute of the game would be icing on the cake, giving Michigan 3-0 shutout in game one of the two-game series.Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said following the game he was satisfied with how his team played for the most part, but that it came down to his team not making big plays in crucial situations.“We just didn’t take advantage of those moments of truth with the puck,” Eaves said. “We executed well, that’s the only hole I thought we had tonight.”After getting shutout Friday, Wisconsin gave the Wolverines everything they had in Saturday afternoon’s rematch, for two periods at least.The Badgers got on the board first forward Ryan Wagner put in a rebound a little less than halfway into the first period. Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but its lead would not last for long in the second period. After Michigan forward Justin Selman tied it up, Compher scored his second goal of the series to put Michigan ahead by a goal.It looked like Michigan was going to carry its lead and the game’s momentum into the third period, but Wisconsin’s leading scorer Grant Besse had other ideas. With 29 seconds left in the period, Besse fired a shot off the crossbar, causing the puck to trickle just over the goal line before Michigan goaltender Steve Racine could bat it away. The referees originally signaled no goal, but after a lengthy review and to the crowd’s dismay, the referees reversed their decision and ruled Besse’s shot a goal, silencing Yost Ice Arena and allowing the Badgers to escape the second period tied up with all the momentum.While Wisconsin and Michigan were neck and neck at the second intermission, the Wolverines and specifically J.T. Compher would prove too tough to stick with in the final period. Eight minutes into the third, Compher scored his second by rocketing a wrist-shot just over Rumpel’s shoulder and into the top corner of the net. After the Wolverines tacked on another goal four minutes later, Compher converted an empty-netter, giving him a hat trick and his team their second consecutive three-goal win over the Badgers.According to Eaves, he was especially disappointed with his team’s final period Saturday because they missed an opportunity to take advantage of the momentum that provided Besse’s late second-period goal.“We didn’t come out with the energy one thought we would have had, getting that late goal in the second,” Eaves said. “That was the only period I was really disappointed in the whole weekend. We didn’t take the energy that we had; we just kind of sat on our heels and let them dictate.”While the Badgers were unable to leave Ann Arbor with a victory, Eaves still felt following Friday’s game that his team’s improved play of late is an encouraging sign of getting hot at the right time.“We’re getting closer,” Eaves said. “We keep talking about playing our best hockey in March. If we play like this come March we’re giving ourselves a real good chance at winning some games.”last_img read more