No. 10 Wisconsin men’s hockey returns home from a trip to Massachusetts with two wins in hand.
A night after dispatching Boston College 5–2, the Badgers (4–1–0 overall, 1–1–0 Big Ten) defeated Merrimack 4–1 in North Andover, Mass. Like they did against the Eagles, the Badgers spread the offense around as four different players scored goals against the Warriors.
Senior forward Jason Ford got the Badgers on the board in the first period, netting his first goal of the season just a minute-and-a-half into the game.
After Merrmiack tied the game in the second on a Tyler Irvine goal, junior forward Seamus Malone got his second goal in two nights, putting the game-winner past Warriors netminder Drew Vogler off a mad dash that saw bodies sprawled all over the ice.
Malone’s score kicked off a run of three goals in less than a minute for Wisconsin. Sophomore forward Max Zimmer tacked on another just 14 seconds later to put the Badgers up 3–1.
Senior forward Ryan Wagner capped the scoring burst 25 seconds after Zimmer’s goal, giving Wisconsin its 4–1 win.
Goaltender Kyle Hayton stood tall for Wisconsin, stopping 41 shots, including 16 in the third period.
Eleven Badgers have now scored goals for Wisconsin over the first five games of the season. With Luke Kunin now plying his trade for the Minnesota Wild, the balanced scoring has helped pick up the slack of his missing offense.
Graduate transfer Hayton has looked good so far, solidifying a goaltender position that caused Wisconsin trouble much of last season. Hayton is 4–1 through five games with a 2.01 GAA and .927 SV%.
Hayton’s play has tightened up a porous Wisconsin defense. The Badgers are only allowing 2.0 goals per game, a significant improvement over last season when Wisconsin allowed 19 goals in its first five contests.
Wisconsin’s power play has not looked as strong as it did last season, as the Badgers have only converted two of 16 tries (.125), though they are killing off penalties at a .150 clip (3-for-20).
Wisconsin travels to Green Bay this weekend to take on Northern Michigan at the Resch Center. Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m., and the puck drops for Saturday’s contest at 5 p.m.