Men’s Hockey: Badgers Edge Wildcats, Earn Sweep

A late third-period goal by true freshman Grant Besse helped life the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team to a 2-1 win over Northern Michigan Saturday night at the Kohl Center. 

For the second straight game, it was the Badgers who got on the board first. Nic Kerdiles did the honors for the home team when he scorched the twine on a clapper from just inside the blue line nearly midway thru the first. 

That was all the offense the crowd of nearly 10,000 at the KC would get to see until Luke Eibler produced the equalizer for the Wildcats at 9:10 of the third period. 

Besse dealt the decisive blow with 3:35 to go in the contest, his second score in as many games, making him the first Badger to score in each of his first two career games since Kyle Turris accomplished the feat back in 2007.

“I just took the shot, tried to shoot for  a rebound because I saw the middle drive going to the net," Besse said."It kind of popped right out to me, hit off my shin pad, came right back down to my stick, goalie was out of the net and I was able to slide it home.”

UW outshot NMU 29-21 on the night. The Badgers held the advantage in shots in both games of the series.

Goaltender Joel Rumpel received the starting nod for the first time this season. He responded by making 20 saves. 

“I fought the puck a little bit early… I guess to be expected in the first game of the year, but I ended up making the saves after I was fighting it," Rumpel said. "It could be better, but I’m happy about the win.”

The two wins mark Wisconsin's first season-opening sweep since the 2004-05 season and first sweep of Northern Michigan since the 1996-97 season.

While it is safe to say that this season is off to a much better start than the last one, things are about to get real for head coach Mike Eaves and company. No. 4 Boston College and No. 19 Boston University await the Badgers next weekend in what will be a grueling set of road games.