first_imgWisconsin hockey players rejoice Saturday after avenging Friday’s loss with a 3-2 win over Northern Michigan at the Kohl Center.[/media-credit]The Wisconsin men’s hockey team, surrounded by questions about youth and inexperience at the beginning of the season, took to the ice for its season-opening series against Northern Michigan Friday and Saturday to mixed results.The Badgers split the series at the Kohl Center, picking up a 3-2 win Saturday night after falling in overtime by the same score Friday night. Both games saw the Badgers engineer a late comeback effort, though Friday night’s was ultimately unsuccessful.“Maybe that’s the unwritten character of this team early in the season,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. “Being young like that, sometimes that [na?vety], they just expect to come back and keep playing. They don’t think about it too much. That’s a nice quality to have in a group of young men and one we will probably have to pull on in later games this year.”Saturday night, the Badgers started a freshman goalie for the second consecutive night. After Landon Peterson started the first game, Joel Rumpel began the second. Rumpel got off to a rocky start Saturday, allowing Wildcat forward Justin Florek to score his second goal of the series less than four minutes into the game on a power play.Northern Michigan continued to outshoot Wisconsin in the first period and it paid off with Florek’s second power play goal of the game with 17 seconds remaining before intermission. Rumpel collected himself to start the second period and settled in nicely for the remainder of the game, finishing with 31 saves and the first win of his collegiate career.“I thought he was tentative in the first period, got a little better in the second; he felt the puck a little bit more, and I thought he was assertive and confident in the third period and that reflected our team,” Eaves said.Midway through the second period, Wisconsin’s offense was finally able to gain some momentum when forward Tyler Barnes scored his first goal of the year on a power play. Less than five minutes later, sophomore Michael Mersch tied the game at 1-1 with his first goal of the season.The Badgers and Wildcats headed into the third period tied 2-2, and it seemed possible that game two would head into overtime just like game one. But with 3:44 left in regulation, Wisconsin forward Derek Lee did his best impression of Reed Seckel’s game winning wraparound goal for Northern Michigan from the night before, giving the Badgers a lead they would not relinquish. The third Wisconsin goal also gave Justin Schultz his third assist of the game.Friday’s season-opener was highlighted by an intense rally by the Badgers and a fantastic wraparound goal by Seckel with 3.7 seconds left in overtime to deny Wisconsin’s comeback, as Northern Michigan emerged victorious, 3-2.“The thing we want them to leave the rink with tonight is the idea that we came back, we didn’t quit, we persevered,” Eaves said.After being outshot 10-3 in the opening period, Northern Michigan took advantage of Wisconsin’s struggles to control the puck and had 11 shots in the second, converting two into goals by forward Kory Kaunisto and Florek, the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer from last season.The power play was Wisconsin’s biggest challenge and largest momentum-changer of the game. Until 7:17 remained in the third period, Wisconsin had been 0- for- 9 on power play opportunities. But UW sophomore defenseman Joe Faust scored on the Badgers’ 10th and final power play opportunity, making the score 2-1 in favor of Northern Michigan.Exactly six minutes later, with 1:17 left in regulation, freshman forward Joseph LeBate scored the first goal of his Badger career, causing a less-than-full Kohl Center to erupt with excitement.“Our intensity picked up and going into OT you could tell our team really stepped up, and obviously the fans were in it and it was awesome,” LeBate said.Headed into overtime, Wisconsin appeared to have all the momentum going forward, but the two teams were locked in a stalemate for much of the period until Seckel got his remarkable shot to bounce off UW goaltender Landon Peterson’s pad and into the goal to win the game.“I came in, prepared well, stayed focused and just kept telling myself to control the things I can control,” Peterson said.Despite allowing three goals and being credited with the loss, Eaves was pleased with Peterson’s performance.“I thought he was very solid,” Eaves said. “He gave us a chance to win the game. I think one of the tell tale signs [that] a goalie has got poise and confidence out there is the puck was dumped in and he was quick to get out and stop the puck, made good decisions and good passes. He was square to the puck all night and did a nice job, gave us a chance to win the game or get a tie.”last_img read more