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Wisconsin men’s hockey: Badgers split series against Northern Michigan

In Green Bay, the Granato era starts off 1-1.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Goodness gracious, it’s good to have hockey back.

Wisconsin kicked off both the Tony Granato era and 2016-17 regular season this weekend at the Resch Center in Green Bay. The play was a bit sloppy to start the year, but the Badgers managed to come away with a split in the two-game series Friday and Saturday against the Northern Michigan Wildcats.

Friday: Northern Michigan 3, Wisconsin 2

The Badgers dropped their first game of the season on Friday 3-2. Gerard Hanson got the scoring started just 19 seconds into the game, beating sophomore Matt Jurusik to put the Wildcats up 1-0. The Badgers (Will Johnson) and Wildcats (Robbie Payne) exchanged power-play goals to close out the scoring in the first. Troy Loggins added a goal in the second to put the Wildcats up for good. Corbin McGuire got one back for the Badgers early in the third, but it was not enough as the Wildcats closed out the game for the win.

The power-play was a problem for UW as the Badgers managed only 10 shots on nine power plays, including no goals over four minutes early in the third. The Badgers hit the iron a few ties throughout but ultimately couldn’t finish the job as the Wildcats escaped a late charge.

Saturday: Wisconsin 6, Northern Michigan 5

Saturday’s matchup was a barn-burning affair with the teams sharing 11 goals among them. Luke Kunin got the scoring started in the first on a power-play goal just five minutes in. Robbie Payne and Gerard Hanson put the Wildcats up 2-1 in the first.

The second period was a saw five goals combined with Badgers tying the game at the 1:38 mark of the second, then netting two power-play goals by Will Johnson and Seamus Malone. Northern Michigan added two of its own in the second, including a short-handed goal by Robbie Payne.

The Badgers went down early in the third on a Darien Craighead goal but rallied to tie just a minute later on Corbin McGuire’s second of the game. Trent Frederic put UW up ahead for good midway through the third period and the Badgers withstood a furious Wildcat scramble to hold on for Granato’s first victory as Wisconsin head coach.

The Badgers have a tough early season test this weekend as Boston College comes to the Kohl Center for games on Friday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.).