Wisconsin played solid hockey for two and a half periods Saturday night. Unfortunately, that's not enough against a team like North Dakota.
People are going to look at the score and think the Badgers got blown out of the building. That wasn't the case at all. After a so-so first period, the Badgers gained momentum in the second after killing of a 5 minute major penalty to defenseman Jack Dougherty. UW added a goal in the middle frame but couldn't keep it together down the stretch.
Wisconsin played one of its best games of the season and just couldn't find a way to keep it together in the third, giving up three goals in the final period for the second straight night.
The paid attendance at the Kohl Center was 13,621 Saturday. It wasn't the best crowd in history, but the building had a little juice and was helped by a number of North Dakota fans in attendance.
1-0, North Dakota (8:39): Brendan O'Donnell (Troy Stecher, Connor Gaarder): UND takes a 1-0 lead on a bad-angle shot by O'Donnell. Stecher's shot bounced to the side boards near the hash marks and O'Donnell hammered a shot over Joel Rumpel's shoulder for the first lead of the night.
1-1, Wisconsin (6:16): Grant Besse (Jack Dougherty, Tim Davison): Besse nets his first goal of the year as he breaks into the offensive zone through the high slot and snaps a shot over the glove of UND goaltender Zane McIntyre to tie the score at one.
2-1, North Dakota (9:49): Drake Caggiula (Nick Schmaltz, Andrew Panzarella): Schmaltz, who is a Verona, Wis., native, helps UND take the lead with a beautiful cross-ice pass that Caggiula is able to one-time past Rumpel for the 2-1 lead.
3-1, North Dakota (10:23): Luke Johnson (un.): UND extends the lead after an own-goal by the Badgers. Johnson fired a long-range shot at the Wisconsin net that Rumpel stopped, but Chase Drake swatted at the puck at the same time Rumpel attempted to cover it up. The result was the puck ending up in the Wisconsin net.
4-1, North Dakota (11:07): Stecher (Michael Parks, Johnson): UND enters the zone on an odd-man rush and the puck ends up on Stecher's stick. The sophomore defenseman put on the brakes to let UW defenseman Jack Dougherty go by, and Stecher did the rest, firing a shot over Rumpel's shoulder. Parks also set an important screen in front of Rumpel to take away his vision.
5-1, North Dakota (16:25): Gage Ausmus (Caggiula, Parks): UND Puts the nail in the coffin after Wisconsin defenseman Kevin Schulze turns the puck over in the high slot. Ausmus one-timed the Schulze pass right into the back of the Wisconsin net.
3 stars of the game
1. Troy Stecher (North Dakota): Stecher was very impressive all weekend but especially on Saturday. He started the first goal by attacking the zone and getting a shot on net, and added one of his own in the third period when he finished a line-rush and buried a shot over Rumpel's shoulder.
2. Michael Parks (North Dakota): This could have gone to a couple of guys, including Caggiula, but I went with Parks for his play on the entire weekend. All four of his points this weekend came in the third period. Kid was a really good and is in line for a big season.
3. Grant Besse (Wisconsin): Scored his first goal of the season and was clearly Wisconsin's best forward Saturday night. Contributed offensively and also on the penalty kill. Schulze deserves a little love as well. He played close to half the game including the entire five-minute penalty kill while Dougherty was in the box.
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