Two third period goals from Tyler Barnes were just what the doctor ordered Friday night for the Badgers, as they were able to battle back from a three goal deficit to earn a hard-fought tie vs. No. 12 Lake Superior State at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Given the results two weekends ago in Boston when Wisconsin was swept out of town in embarrassing fashion -- 9-2 and 7-3 against Boston College and Boston University, respectively -- it would be hard to blame UW fans for covering their eyes and ducking for cover early on Friday night against the Lakers (4-0-1).
Three shots in the first 4:09 of first period ended up in the back of the Badgers' net, leaving even Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves weary for a minute.
"It felt like, holy smokes, we still haven't gotten the demons from Boston out of our system yet." Eaves said after the game.
But the Badgers were able to weather the storm and turn the tide the rest of the night, which resulted in a 44-25 shot advantage in favor of Wisconsin when all said and done.
A late first period goal from Michael Mersch on the power play gave the Badgers a lift heading into the first intermission.
What was Eaves' message between periods?
"Let's just relax here," Eaves said. "This is a test for us. It's a test of our maturity as a team. How are we going to handle this adverse situation? Let's not go on our own pages and try and get it done by all by ourselves. Lets continue to play as a team, as units of five on the ice and chip our way back in. And that's exactly what happened."
The score would stay the same until Barnes tipped a Mark Zengerle shot past Lakers' goaltender Kevin Kapalka in the third period. With the goalie pulled, Barnes would strike again with just 1:22 to play, forcing overtime.
After no winner was reached in the overtime session, the teams finished the game with a shootout that was eventually won by Lake Superior State.
In case you were wondering, the shootout didn't count for anything. It was basically a practice for Big Ten play that starts in a few weeks. This season the Big Ten will use shootouts to determine points for league games and league standings. Shootout wins and losses do not count for PairWise purposes.
All things considered, it was a successful night for the Badgers.
"I'm pumped," Eaves said. "This (comeback) is exactly what we needed for our guys."
Wisconsin and Lake Superior State will do battle again Saturday night at the Kohl Center, game time is 7:00 p.m. Saturday's finale will be broadcast on the Wisconsin channel, and can also be streamed online for free on the Wisconsin Public Access website.
Additional notes: Sophomore Nic Kerdiles assisted on the first period Mersch goal, which extended his point streak to 17 games. The Wisconsin school record is 21, set by current head coach Mike Eaves.
Friday's attendance was announced as 7,022. Reports from the Kohl Center suggest that number is still likely inflated by a couple thousand.
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