Wisconsin’s growing men’s hockey program took a big step forward this weekend.
Playing in front of the biggest home crowd of the season on Saturday, Wisconsin (11-8-1 overall, 4-2-0-0 Big Ten) upset visiting No. 7 Minnesota (14-6-2 overall, 6-2-0-0 Big Ten) 5-3 at the Kohl Center. The huge win came on the heels of a close 4-3 overtime loss to the Gophers on Friday.
Saturday saw the Badgers go down early to the Gophers on goals by Ryan Norman and Mike Szmatula. Wisconsin turned the game in the second period, notching three goals within five minutes of each other midway through the frame.
Five different Badgers found the back of the net Saturday, as Will Johnson, Cameron Hughes, Tim Davison, Corbin McGuire and Trent Frederic all scored. Sophomore goaltender Matt Jurusik made 32 saves for his sixth win of the season.
Wisconsin almost managed to nick points on Friday, as the Badgers roared back from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime. It was not to be, however, as Minnesota’s Justin Kloos snared the game-winner for the Gophers 1:43 into the extra period.
Wisconsin captain Luke Kunin, Trent Frederic and Matt Ustaski all scored for the Badgers on Friday. Freshman goaltender Jack Berry turned away 36 shots in the losing effort.
The Badgers have now won four of six, scoring 26 goals over that period. Wisconsin averages 3.65 goals per game, good for sixth nationally. The Badgers are one of four Big Ten teams who rank in the top six offensively in the country.
Kunin has tallied 14 goals on the season and nine Badgers have double-digit points scored. Kunin (1.16), senior Grant Besse (1.16) and Frederic (1.21) all average better than a point per game.
Defense continues to be a challenge. Wisconsin allows 3.30 goals per game, which places it 49th in the country out of 60 teams. In the Big Ten, only five-win Michigan State (3.82) allows more.
With Saturday’s win, Wisconsin sits third in the Big Ten, six points back of Minnesota and one point ahead of No. 11 Ohio State, which defeated No. 1/No. 2 Penn State 6-3 on Saturday and won a shootout against the Nittany Lions on Friday.
The Badgers face the Buckeyes in Columbus on Thursday and in New York City on Saturday night as part of the Super Saturday doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.
Around the Big Ten
- No. 7/No. 7 Minnesota (14-6-2 Overall; 6-2-0-0 Big Ten): Defeated Wisconsin 4-3 in OT on Friday; lost to Wisconsin 5-3 on Saturday in Madison.
- No. 1/No. 2 Penn State (16-3-2 Overall; 5-2-1-0 Big Ten): Shootout loss to Ohio State on Friday; lost to Ohio State 6-3 on Saturday in University Park.
- No. 11/No. 11 Ohio State (12-4-6 Overall; 3-2-1-1 Big Ten): Shootout win against Penn State on Friday; defeated Penn State 6-3 on Saturday in University Park.
- Michigan (8-12-2 Overall; 1-6-1-1 Big Ten): Lost to Michigan State 3-0 in Ann Arbor on Friday; shootout win against Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday.
- Michigan State (5-12-2 Overall; 1-6-1-0 Big Ten): Defeated Michigan 3-0 in Ann Arbor on Friday; shootout loss against Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday.