Before the line chart dropped on Saturday night ahead of the game between the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers and Arizona State, Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal reported that four Badgers wouldn’t be suiting up, potentially due to a COVID-19 case. From Milewski’s story:
“Forwards Roman Ahcan, Tarek Baker, Dominick Mersch and Ty Pelton-Byce weren’t on the Badgers’ line chart for the game. A team spokesperson said only that they were unavailable for Saturday and wouldn’t confirm that it was related to a positive COVID-19 test or potential exposure to someone who tested positive.
Pelton-Byce has missed the last three games because of a concussion. It was unclear which player in the group tested positive and which ones were being held out because of close contact.”
With star forward Dylan Holloway already out of the lineup because he was in Canada trying out for their World Junior team, who coincidentally had just shut down training camp for two weeks due to COVID-19 cases, the Badgers were left scrambling to fill out a lineup.
They rolled with nine forwards in both games against the Sun Devils and then had freshman Luke LaMaster and sophomore Shay Donovan, both defensemen by trade, fill in as “fourth line forwards” as it were.
Perhaps buoyed by an “us against the world” energy to open the first game of the series on Saturday night, the Badgers jumped out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the first period. The second lead came courtesy of this shorthanded effort by sophomore pivot Owen Lindmark. He would add another goal in the third period to go along with two assists to pace the Badgers offense.
Unfortunately, Lindmark’s big night was not nearly enough to get the win as Arizona State was relentless and poured in eight goals, to Wisconsin’s five, on the evening. The Sun Devils forced head coach Tony Granato to pull Robbie Beydoun, who had been playing extremely well this season, and insert freshman Cameron Rowe. Beydoun gave up five goals, Rowe gave up two and the Sun Devils added an empty netter for good measure.
Of note, regarding Wisconsin’s special teams: UW scored a short-handed goal for the second consecutive game, but failed on the power play for the first time this season, going 0-for-3 with the man-advantage.
The Badgers (4-4-0, 4-3-0-0-1-0 Big Ten) went into the game on Sunday with the same hodgepodge lineup, but played with a renewed intensity against the Sun Devils (2-3-1). Wisconsin was unable to turn their intensity into many goals, though, as they lost the series finale 3-1.
Freshman winger Sam Stange scored UW’s only goal, his fourth of the season, on a crazy deflection that caught the ASU goalie off guard. Former Badger Sean Dhooghe, and brother of current Badger Jason Dhooghe, made his return to Madison with the Sun Devils but did not have much of an impact on either game, recording no points, one shot and a minus-one rating on the weekend.
The Badgers head to Columbus for an away series against Ohio State on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 3-4 at 4:30 p.m. Friday’s game will air on ESPNU.