Badgers split opening Big Ten series against Wolverines

WPPROD

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Following Friday night’s comeback victory, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team found themselves in a similar situation on Saturday night, in need of a comeback after falling behind by two goals in the first period.

Despite outshooting Michigan 35-19, the Badgers (8-7-1, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten) could not complete the comeback, losing to the Wolverines (7-8-1, 1-3-0-0) by a score of 4-1. The final score included a pair of empty-net tallies for Michigan.

“It was a good performance,” head coach Tony Granato said. “We were close, we were really close. We didn’t execute around the net the way we did last night and their goalie was good.

The two teams were scoreless through the first half of the first period as play went back and forth with scoring chances for both teams.

Michigan’s Alex Kile opened the scoring with a power-play goal 11:32 into the opening frame. Cutler Martin put the Badgers in a 2-0 hole just 1:12 later, a deficit UW would not be able to recover from.

“We had a lot of chances that didn’t go in for us,” Granato said. “I thought the special teams weren’t quite as sharp and that could’ve been fatigue on the second night of a series.”

The Badgers’ power play has proven to be one of the strongest in the country this season, but Wisconsin went just 1-for-7 on the night, including five man-advantage opportunities in the second period.

The lone 5-on-4 tally from the Cardinal and White came late in the second period when Grant Besse potted his eighth goal of the season, collecting a rebound at the side of the net and slamming the puck home. Assists went to Ryan Wagner and Luke Kunin on the play.

Wisconsin entered the third period down just one goal and although they outshot Michigan 15-5 in the frame, they were unable to find the back of the net.
Tony Calderone and Adam Winborg added empty-net goals with less than one minute to go in the game to seal the Badgers’ defeat.

“We’re trying to grow as a team, we’re just trying to get better,” Granato said. “I think if you look at the whole weekend as a package, we played really good hockey. We just didn’t do enough things tonight to solve the goalie.”

The Badgers will have about a month off for finals and winter break before returning to the Kohl Center for the first home conference series of the year as UW will take on Michigan State on Jan. 6-7. Friday’s game will start at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on BTN and available on the radio on WIBA-AM 1310. Saturday’s matchup will begin at 7 p.m. CT and will also be aired on BTN and WIBA-AM 1310.