The Wisconsin men’s hockey team opened up its last home series of the season with a 5-2 win over Michigan State, Friday night at the Kohl Center.
With the win, the Badgers tallied their 16th victory of the season at the Kohl Center, tying the school record for wins at the facility in a single season.
The two teams skated to a 1-1 draw after the opening 20 minutes. Lee Reimer lit the lamp at 6:52 of the first to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal. Minutes later, Michael Mersch found the back of the net on the power play to knot the game at one apiece.
Mersch and the Badgers capitalized on the man advantage once again at the 4:00 mark of the second to make it 2-1 in favor of UW.
“I think that the first power play was not as sharp as we needed. I think getting back on the big ice, we were kind of getting use to the space. Then they got the shorty and it was like a slap in the face,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. “We responded with two power-play goals and we did a lot of good things. So that is a positive that we ended up on the plus side of that. We can build from that.”
Mark Zengerle pushed Wisconsin’s advantage to two with his goal in the final seconds of the period.
“I was talking to Barry Richter on the phone and I think he put it best. When you get scored upon, you get the wind knocked out of you and when you get the score, you put wind in your sails,” Eaves said.” I think that is the way he put it. He said he had been on a few of those himself so he knows. But you can look at a game like this and say what are the turning points. We did a lot of good things, but we only were up 2-1. Getting that third goal gave us some separation.”
A goal from Brad Navin early in the third period made it 4-1 Wisconsin.
Mackenzie MacEachem brought Sparty back within two with his goal at 17:52 of the third.
However, Nic Kerdiles found the back of an empty cage moments later to ice the win for the Badgers.
Wisconsin netminder Joel Rumpel stopped 24 shots en route to picking up his 15th win of the year. He has been between the pipes for all but three of UW’s wins this season.
Kerdiles and Mersch each finished the game with three points.
With the win, the Badgers improve to 18-9-2 overall and 9-5-1 in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin hosts Michigan State this afternoon at 4 p.m. in the final home game of the campaign. The contest will be televised by ESPNU.