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Wisconsin men’s hockey: More sweeps? More sweeps!

The Badgers dominate the Sun Devils in the weekend series, outscoring ASU 9-2.

Following the lead of the women’s hockey team, the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers (8-6-0, 6-4-0-0-1-0 Big Ten) men’s hockey team swept the Arizona State Sun Devils (5-11-2) over the weekend, winning 4-0 on Saturday and 5-2 on Sunday. After having the game on Friday postponed, due to health concerns in the ASU program which kept some players out this weekend, it was nice to see the two teams able to complete the full series.

The Sun Devils were the first team on the schedule that the Badgers had already played this year and you may remember that Wisconsin owed Arizona State one. When the two teams met back in November, the Sun Devils swept the shorthanded Badgers. UW was missing multiple key pieces due to World Juniors camps, injuries and COVID-19 protocols. They weren’t even able to ice a full four lines and had multiple players playing out of position.

Needless to say, revenge was on Wisconsin’s mind.

At full strength this time around, the Badgers came out of the gate swinging and scored three goals in the first period on Saturday. A mere 2:37 into the game Jack Gorniak received a diving pass from Owen Lindmark and slotted it past the ASU goalie to give the Badgers all of the offense they would need.

Wisconsin’s defense was incredibly stout on Saturday, giving up only 11 shots on goal, while blocking 17, and helping freshman goalie Cam Rowe earn his first collegiate shutout. Linus Weissbach notched two assists on Saturday, tying him with Cole Caufield for the team lead with 15 points.

On Sunday, the Sun Devils came out looking for revenge and played much better from the start of the game. ASU scored a power play goal in the first to go up 1-0, the first goal that Rowe had allowed in well over four periods, but Weissbach and Caufield each notched a power play goal a little over two minutes later to give the Badgers the lead heading into the first intermission.

Mike Vorlicky scored his first goal of the season, which turned out to be the game-winner, in the second period and the Badgers added two empty net goals (from Brock Caufield and Jason Dhooghe) after the Sun Devils made it 3-2 midway through the third. Former Badger Sean Dhooghe had an assist on ASU’s second goal.

Seconds before the second Arizona State goal, Roman Achan elbowed Dhooghe in the head and received a five minute major and a game misconduct after the high hit (read Todd Milewski’s piece on the penalty kill here). Wisconsin killed the penalty and their third sweep of the season, and revenge, was within reach.

“We had the goal to sweep this weekend,” said Badgers senior Ty Pelton-Byce after the game Sunday on Zoom. “When you come in and play against half our team and start making sweeping motions with your stick after the second game, that’s what’s going to happen. We were confident in what we had this week and I think we handled it really well.”

A night after stopping all 11 shots, Rowe stopped 23 of 25 against the Sun Devils on Sunday to earn his second win of the series. The Badgers went 2-for-3 on the power play on Sunday, ending a three-game drought and an 0-for-7 stretch.

Sunday’s game was the fourth one this season in which brothers Cole and Brock Caufield each scored. Weissbach and Cole Caufield each had a goal and an assist on Sunday to stay even with each other in the team points leader race with 17.

The Badgers will travel to State College, Pa. to take on Penn State (7-7-0, 5-7-0-1-0-0 Big Ten) in a Thursday-Friday series. The Badgers swept the Nittany Lions at LaBahn Arena earlier this year.