Badgers hockey earn first win of season the hard way

As most of Madison was celebrating a Big Ten West championship and an 11th straight win over the Gophers, the hockey team finally got to celebrate it’s first win of the season. Friday night, UW earned its first tie of the year, and on Saturday the Badgers one-upped themselves in a 5-3 win to wrap up the weekend series with Ferris State.

“The thing that our guys did is they built on little victories during the course of the game, and we kept building and we got stronger as the game went on,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “You could feel the energy on the bench increase as the game went along.”

It took 10 games, but the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey program finally got to taste victory, and not surprisingly it came on thanks to some firsts for two youngsters on the roster. Freshman forward Corbin McGuire and defenseman Jack Dougherty both scored their first career goals, with Dougherty’s effort being the game winner.

However, it took some of the more experienced skaters to show the young guys the way.

Sophomore forward Grant Bessse led the way with two goals (3 on the season), bookending the night as he opened UW’s account at the 12:25 mark of the first period (1-1) and sealed the deal with an empty-netter at the 18:42 mark of the final period.

However, even that was a first, because it was the first multi-goal game of Besse’s career.

After Besse tied things up in the first period at 1-1, the trend of trading goals would continue for a while.

Ferris State would retake the lead on a goal by Austin Kosack (1) at the 7:22 mark of the second period, but UW didn’t take long to respond. The Badgers made it 2-2 thanks to redshirt freshman Corbin McGuire’s first goal of his career just 37 seconds later (7:59).

He wasn’t alone in a first on the goal, as fellow freshman Matt Ustaski earned his first assist of the season and the secondary assist went to Jack Linhart (4). Linhart had two assists on the night.

It was a just reward for the Badgers fourth line though, as the entire group had been providing the majority of action and energy for the team all season long.

“It was pretty exciting (to score), but I guess I was more satisfied with the win,” Dougherty said. “It couldn’t have been more deserved – guys from the fourth line to the first line were playing their roles, and it really showed tonight. We really deserved to win that game, and it’s really satisfying.”

Wisconsin would show signs that this could the game to win following McGuire’s goal, as senior Matt Paape netted his first goal in 77 games at the 18:16 mark in the second period to put UW up 3-2. It was team effort on the goal, as forward linemates Morgan Zulinick (2) and Aidan Cavallini (1) picked up the assists on the goal.

As the final period opened up, it didn’t take long for Ferris State to make it know they weren’t going to go out without a fight. Forward Andrew Tyler (2) would tie things up just 2:09 in to the period and make UW attack if it wanted to win this one.

That’s exactly what happened, as Dougherty netted his first goal of the season and his career just three minutes, 20 seconds later (5:29) to put UW up by a 4-3 score line.

Wisconsin’s defense tightened up from there, allowing a game-low nine shot on goal in the final period. Thanks to some help from his defense and some timely late goaltending, Rumpel earned his 50th career win.

The win and series momentum couldn’t have come at a better time for the Badgers, as Wisconsin now stares Big Ten play in the face for the first time next weekend. UW will host Penn State at the Kohl Center in a Friday-Saturday series, with Friday’s game airing live on ESPNNEWS at 8pm CT. Saturday’s puck drop is set for 8pm CT as well, with no TV scheduled.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site