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Wisconsin men’s hockey splits weekend series against Merrimack

The young Badgers lose Frederic and Jurusik but continue to show improvement.

Junior assistant captain Cameron Hughes.
UW Athletic Department Communications

The Wisconsin men’s hockey team went into its weekend matchup with Merrimack down a major contributor. With freshman star Trent Frederic sidelined for a few weeks with an upper-body injury suffered in practice Thursday, the Badgers (6-4-0) looked to build on their early, if slightly uneven, success.

As has been the case much of the season, Wisconsin was up-and-down, taking game one of the series 3-2 on Friday before dropping the second game 2-0 on Saturday.

With sophomore Matt Jurusik struggling lately, freshman Jack Berry got the start in goal on Friday and extended his Wisconsin-record career-beginning shutout streak to 144:17 before Merrimack’s Brett Seney scored midway through the second period. Wisconsin sophomore captain Luke Kunin, junior defenseman Jake Linhart and freshman standout Max Zimmer all scored goals in the Badgers’ 3-2 victory.

Jurusik returned to start in goal on Saturday, but made it less than 18 minutes before departing with an injury. The Badger offense never got going and the Warriors escaped the Kohl Center with the 2-0 win.

On Monday, it was reported that Jurusik would be out three to four weeks with a knee injury. Berry looks to take on the bulk of the goaltending duties with fellow freshman Johan Blomquist also possibly getting some time. While Jurusik has been uneven to say the least in the young season, he is the only goaltender on the roster who had seen college ice time before the season started and his loss puts pressure on Berry and Blomquist to shoulder a heavier load than expected this year.

Despite the loss on Saturday, the Badgers are only two wins away from matching their total from a season ago. While the team is young, coach Tony Granato’s more open style is already paying dividends. The Badgers’ goals per game (3.3 in 2016-17 vs. 2.66 in 2015-16) and power-play percentage (.219 vs. .186) are both up, and opponents’ goals per game (3.2 vs. 3.63) and power-play conversion (.093 vs. .176) are down.

This weekend, Wisconsin travels out west to match up with old WCHA foes Colorado College (3-7-0) on Friday and a stiff test against USCHO No. 2 Denver (7-2-3) on Saturday.

Around the Big Ten

  • No. 9 Penn State (11-1-1 Overall): Defeated Arizona State 7-4 and 8-0 in University Park.
  • No. 11 Minnesota (5-3-2 Overall): Split a home-and-home with Minnesota State, losing 4-1 on the road and winning 1-0 in Minneapolis.
  • No. 13 Ohio State (8-1-4 Overall): Defeated RPI 4-0 and 3-2 in Troy, N.Y.
  • No. 16 Michigan (5-4-1 Overall): Defeated the USA Under-18 Team in exhibition action.
  • Michigan State (3-6-0 Overall): Off.