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Wisconsin men's hockey: Badgers lose Big Ten opener to Michigan

The Badgers give up a 3-0 lead in their Big Ten opener to surrender a 6-4 loss to the Wolverines.

Andy Johnson

The Wisconsin Badgers began Big Ten play against the Michigan Wolverines on Friday night at Yost Arena with an eventful 6-4 loss.

The Badgers (3-5-4) held a 3-0 lead early in the second period only to watch it slip away after an impressive comeback by the Wolverines. The last time Michigan (7-2-2) overcame a three-goal deficit to win was January of last year, when it trailed Wisconsin 4-1. UM ended up winning 7-4.

The Badgers and Wolverines swapped changes at the start, testing both goalies freshmen Matt Jurusik and junior Zach Nagelvoort.

A little over five minutes into the first period, the Badgers were awarded their first power-play opportunity of the game. Just 30 seconds in to the man advantage, birthday boy Luke Kunin cashed in on a cross-ice feed from Cameron Hughes for his fifth goal of the season.

The first period came to end with the Badgers on top 1-0 thanks to Kunin's third power-play goal of the season. The Wolverines outshot the Badgers by a narrow margin of 8-7.

The Badgers went back to work as soon as the puck dropped for the second period, which turned out to be a wild, back-and-forth, seven-goal exchange.

To begin, 2:39 into the period, the freshman Tim Davison flung a wrister from the blue line that found its way to the back of the net for his fourth goal of season -- all in his last nine games. The Badgers led 2-0.

Minutes later, the Badgers made it 3-0 on a 2-on-1 rush. Sophomore Ryan Wagner floated a saucer pass onto freshman Will Johnson's stick, and he one-timed it past Nagelvoort.

At 13:13, Michigan began to mount its comeback as Dexter Dancs connected to get the Wolverines on the board. Dancs's goal proved to be the spark plug that granted the Wolverines back-to-back chances.

Michigan's Brendan Warren was hooked on a breakaway and given a rare penalty shot with 11:57 remaining. He ended up missing a penalty-shot chance on a blocker save by Jurusik, but 29 seconds later he capitalized on a rebound right in front of Jurusik's net, cutting the Badgers' lead to one.

The Wolverines had gained noticeable momentum after scoring two quick goals followed by some sustained pressure. That was until sophomore Matt Ustaski deflected a shot from freshman Jarod Zirbel as he slid in front of Nagelvoort, regaining the Badgers' two-goal lead with 9:56 left in the period.

Wisconsin was unable to hold the two-goal advantage as Michigan got a little fortunate on a broken play. Wolverines captain JT Compher saw the puck bounce to his stick and he buried a shot from the slot, making it a one-goal game once again with 6:18 to go.

With 3:23 remaining, the Wolverines' Justin Selman found the equalizer, tipping a shot from defenseman Cutler Martin. The score was tied 4-4 at the end of two.

The Badgers came out flat in the third period, perhaps shaken from the resilience of the Wolverines. Less than five minutes into the frame, Tyler Motte stole the puck in his offensive zone and beat Jurusik for his eighth goal of the season and the Wolverines' first lead of the game. Motte's goal proved to be the game-winner.

At 13:02 of the third period, the Badgers were given their second power-play chance but were unable to repeat the success they had in the first period. Wolverines freshman Kyle Connor tacked on an empty-net goal with one second remaining to secure the victory.

The two teams will be back at it Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. CT. The Badgers will try to win their first Big Ten game of this young season.