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No.13 Wisconsin suffered a surprising setback on Friday night, dropping its first home game of the season with a 3-2 decision against Alaska-Anchorage, but rebounded to earn a 4-3 win on Saturday.
What’s the Impact
UAA (9-9-2) is better than past year, but losing to an average team at home was a bit of a mind stumper, especially considering the Seawolves hadn’t won a road game until Friday night (0-5-1), hadn’t played a game since Dec.14 and hadn’t won in Madison since 2005 (a span of 15 games), while UW was undefeated at home (9-0-1) and on a six-game winning streak.
The Badgers’ resume takes a hit in losing to its first unranked team of the season, but we won’t know how much of a hit for a few weeks. Wisconsin sits now at 11-6-1.
Who was the Weekend MVP
Jake McCabe eeks out the award over Tyler Barnes based on McCabe’s two goals on Saturday, the first multi-goal game of his career. McCabe scored the first goal near the end of the first period thanks to some beautiful stick work and a nice backhanded shot, erasing a one-goal lead, and scored the game-winning goal in the third period after his centering pass went off a UAA player’s skate and into the net.
“I think everyone was a little let down after (Friday),” said McCabe. “We just got dominated in all aspects. (Saturday) was a good response. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the job done. That’s the only thing that really matters.”
Three Areas of Concern
Nic Kerdiles’ health: Wisconsin skated virtually the entire weekend without its star center, as Kerdiles missed Friday’s game when one of his flights was delayed coming back from the World Juniors in Sweden and had to leave Saturday’s game early after injuring his shoulder going hard into the boards. Kerdiles was seen icing his right shoulder and grimacing in pain as he watched from behind the glass. With UW going back into Big Ten play, the Badgers need a healthy Kerdiles to fortify their top lines.
Bad Starts: Wisconsin trailed in the first period each night against an offense that only averaged 1.83 goals per game on the road. The Badgers were out skated both first periods and won a lot of the races and puck battles on Friday.
“We had some guys that absolutely did not show up in the form that we’re used to them showing up in,” said Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves. “I scratch my head as to why.”
Out Shot: Without Kerdiles and senior right winger Sean Little in the lineup, Wisconsin was out shot on both nights for a combined 58-52 margin over the weekend. The power play was also a mixed bag, going 2-for-4 on Friday night, but going 0-for-6 and allowing a shorthanded goal Saturday.
Three Areas of Excitement
Barnes:UW needed players to step up while dealing with injuries and absences, which was why Barnes’ weekend was so important. He scored UW’s first goal and assisted on its second on Friday and scored a goal for the fifth-consecutive game Saturday. Barnes ranks second on the team with nine goals and is playing solid hockey.
Making it work:Forward Jefferson Dahl called Saturday a whirlwind with the amount of switching and shuffling on lines the Badgers had to do for the final two-and-a-half periods on Saturday following the Kerdiles injury. It showed the mark of a veteran team that the Badgers were able to overcome the distractions and the poor performance the night before to erase two one-goal deficits.
“The one thing that was really good to see was the fact that the guys took the reins,” said Eaves. “During the TV timeouts they were talking with each other, coaches were giving them some insight, but they were pulling each other together. That was very positive.”
Joel Rumpel:Rumpel also deserved consideration for weekend MVP honors. He was inserted into the game at the start of the third period Friday after Landon Peterson gave up three goals on 15 shots and made 11 saves. He also stopped 26 of 29 shots on Saturday. When healthy, Rumpel is this team’s best goal tender between the pipes.
“I think the fans will enjoy (Michigan and Ohio State coming up). Even if you don’t know much about hockey, you know Ohio State and Michigan. I think this building we call the Kohl Center that’s our home will get fuller full of people.” - Eaves
Michigan was cruising along and was ranked among the top teams in the nation are third in the USCHO poll, but the Wolverines are 0-2-1 in their last three. Michigan (10-4-2) is sitting at 2-0-0-0 in the conference and is tied with the Badgers, who have played two extra conference games.
Michigan leads the all-time series 64-52-8, but the Badgers lead the all-time series in Madison 31-29-2 and are 5-4-1 in the last 10 meetings. These two teams haven’t played since November 2010.