BY: Mike Becker
The Wisconsin men’s hockey team opened its season this weekend with a pair of road games in Massachusetts and had to settle for a split.
On Friday night, the 16th-ranked Badgers were in Chestnut Hill to take on 10th-ranked Boston College. The Badgers got off to a rather slow start and fell behind at the 7:15 mark of the first period when Julius Mattila beat Wisconsin goalie Daniel Lebedeff high on the blocker side. Wisconsin tied the game at the 13:07 mark of period when highly touted freshman Cole Caufield notched his first career goal on a power play. The game was only briefly tied as Boston College scored just eight seconds later and held the 2-1 lead going into the first intermission.
During the first 4:30 of the second period the Eagles scored two quick goals to take a 4-1 lead. Just moments later, Wisconsin defenseman Ty Emberson was charged with a very controversial five minute penalty for contact to the head. Emberson was also handed a game misconduct and ejected from the game.
The Badgers responded, though, not only successfully killing the major penalty, but also seeing freshman Owen Lindmark score his first career goal while the team was shorthanded. About five minutes later Caufield tallied his second power play goal of the night with a beautiful one-time shot to make the game 4-3 at the end of the second period.
That score however was as close as Wisconsin would come, as they were not able to tally any goals in the third period and lost 5-3. Lebedeff was credited with 23 saves on 28 shots.
On Saturday, the Badgers traveled to North Andover to take on the Warriors of Merrimack College.
Wisconsin came out of the gates with much more urgency than they did on Friday. The Badgers took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period, with two separate power play goals. The first was tallied by K’Andre Miller, before Alex Turcotte notched his first career goal.
Merrimack got on the board with only 15 seconds remaining in the period to make the game 2-1 heading to the first intermission.
During the opening two minutes of the second period, Merrimack scored twice to take a 3-2 lead. Trailing for a second night in a row, the Badgers responded by unleashing a barrage of goals, scoring six times in the final 15 minutes of the period.
Ty Pelton-Byce, Roman Ahcan and Tyler Inamoto all tallied their first goals of the season to give the Badgers a 5-3 lead. Merrimack changed goalies at that point but it didn’t improve their fortunes. Mick Messner, Caufield and Turcotte each tallied a goal to take an 8-3 lead at the end of the second period. The six goals in the frame was the most by a Wisconsin team in a single period since 2006.
Wisconsin began the third period the same way it ended the second, as just six seconds into the frame Caufield scored his second goal of the game. Six minutes later, with the Badgers killing off a penalty, Miller scored shorthanded, for his second goal of the evening. Sandwiched between two Merrimack goals, freshman Dylan Holloway scored his first career goal, the 11th and final goal of the night for Wisconsin making the final score 11-5. The 11 goal outburst is the most by the Badgers since 1992.
The Badgers will play at home for the first time next weekend, when they will face Minnesota-Duluth on Friday and Saturday. The Bulldogs are two-time defending national champions and currently ranked No. 1 in the country.