We have been fairly vocal here about how disappointing the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team has been this season, and don’t get me wrong they ARE disappointing, but in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament against a highly ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish squad, the Badgers battled.
Sure Wisconsin lost the series two games to one, but the fact that they won the first game and took the Irish to the limit in the other two games shows that this team had some pride and didn’t want to end the year on a dour note.
Not the ending we wanted, but our guys battled 'till the very end with everything they had.— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerMHockey) March 7, 2022
And to our seniors— Thank you for everything ♥️
Once a Badger, Always a Badger. pic.twitter.com/T8AU4hFjYi
Wisconsin lost the deciding Game 3 on Sunday night, 4-2, featuring goals from Daniel Laatsch (his first of his career) and Sam Stange. The Irish scored their fourth goal on an empty net, so I’m not holding that one against the Badgers. The Badgers were down 2-0 and 3-1 in this game and just didn’t give up.
Game 1 saw the Badgers jump out to a first period lead thanks to a Brock Caufield goal (career point No. 50). The Irish evened the score in the second period but Wisconsin tacked on two more goals to win 3-1. Jared Moe stopped a mind-boggling 49 of 50 shots he faced to earn the W. It was only the second Big Ten tournament victory by a six seed in the nine-year history of the event.
In Game 2, things appeared to be returning to normalcy. Notre Dame came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and scored twice in the opening frame. Roman Achan scored on the power play in the second period to cut the Irish’s lead in half and then 3:23 into the third period Carson Bantle tied things up on the power play for the Badgers.
: Battle back Bantle!— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerMHockey) March 6, 2022
: Caufield pic.twitter.com/lyyc0tMuhA
It looked like things were headed for OT until Notre Dame’s Trevor Janicke scored with just 20 seconds remaining to win it for the Fighting Irish. Moe made another 30 saves in net for the Badgers but it wasn’t quite enough.
Wisconsin’s season is over and there may be difficult decisions to be made by athletic director Chris McIntosh, but the way this team fought when they were big time underdogs and had every excuse to just pack it in and get swept was promising. A tiny moral victory, yes, but after the season they had it was nice to see.