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No. 12 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Miami recap: Badgers best Miami, split series

Joel Rumpel stopped 32 shots and Joseph LaBate netted the game-winner Saturday for the Badgers to earn a split with No. 8 Miami.

Joseph LaBate scored the game winning goal Saturday night vs. Miami
Joseph LaBate scored the game winning goal Saturday night vs. Miami
Larry Radloff Photography

Late goals from Michael Mersch and Joseph LaBate helped Wisconsin (4-3-1) overcome a third-period deficit against Miami (7-4-1) and earn a series split Saturday night.

In front of a sold out crowd of 3,642 at Steve Cady arena in Oxford, Ohio, the Badgers found themselves with their backs against the wall facing the prospects of their fourth consecutive road loss to start the season. To its credit, Wisconsin was able to gut out a victory in a hostile environment after facing adversity.

"It was a gritty effort by this group," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. "When you come back in the third period on the road against a team like this, it starts at the heart."

The Badgers got the scoring started in the first period on a power-play goal by Jake McCabe, his third goal of the season.

Miami would bounce back early in the second period with a power-play goal of its own 5:01 into the period, when Blake Coleman ripped a one-timer past Joel Rumpel into the Wisconsin net.

RedHawks' captain Austin Czarnik would give Miami its first lead of the night later in the period after undressing UW defenseman Joe Faust and finding the twine for his seventh goal of the season.

Heading into the third period trailing by a goal, Wisconsin stuck to its game plan of getting pucks and bodies to the net. That strategy worked out when Mersch was able to poke home his fifth goal of the season half-way through the final stanza.

"It was probably the ugliest of the ugliest," Mersch said when trying to explain his goal.

Mersch's game-tying goal also happened to be the 50th of his Wisconsin career.

"He played well all weekend," Eaves said. "It was appropriate that it was such a big goal, because 50 is such a unique number."

The Badgers weren't satisfied, however, and were able to jump ahead just minutes later on LaBate's third goal of the season. The rangy winger fired a puck on net from an odd angle, and for one of the first times all season, the Badgers caught a break, as the puck somehow found its way across the goal line into the net.

UW goaltender Joel Rumpel finished the game with 32 saves on 34 shots in his first game action since returning from an ankle injury that has sidelined him since before the Boston trip.

Along with Rumpel's play and some timely goals, the Badgers are happy to gut out a win on the road against a very talented Miami club according to Eaves.

"It was just a gritty, gritty effort."

Wisconsin will take next week off before opening up Big Ten play at Minnesota in two weeks.

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