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Badgers men's hockey team swept by Michigan Tech at home for first time since 1974
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Badgers men's hockey team swept by Michigan Tech at home for first time since 1974

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Tony Granato gathered his University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team around him at the bench after its deficit increased to five goals early in the second period Saturday.

Lip reading was impossible because of the mask on Granato’s face but his body language during the timeout told the story. The Badgers coach stood with his hands out at his sides in a “What are we doing?” kind of pose as he talked.

UW had a lot to clean up from its opening game if it was going to avoid falling into unfamiliar, unwanted territory. None of it was happening.

Two unnecessary penalties in the first period led to two Michigan Tech goals and an avalanche of momentum against the 13th-ranked Badgers in a 5-1 defeat at the Kohl Center.

UW is 0-2 for only the 12th time in 59 seasons since the program restarted in 1963. The last time it happened was 2014, when the Badgers started 0-8 en route to a 4-26-5 finish.

The Huskies got power-play goals by a Appleton native and former UW recruit Trenton Bliss and Tyrone Bronte in putting the Badgers away early.

Michigan Tech (2-0) swept the Badgers in Madison for the first time in the teams’ last 38 two-game series here. The only other Huskies road sweeps were in 1933 and 1974.

Bliss scored the opening goal after Dominick Mersch was called for cross-checking Ryland Mosley after a whistle. Bronte made it 3-0 in the final minute of the opening period after Corson Ceulemans was sent off for slashing behind the play as he was going off for a line change.

The undisciplined plays weren’t the only causes for UW’s undoing Saturday but they helped set a tone for a team that didn’t do much to establish itself in positive ways on the opening weekend of the regular season.

University of Wisconsin men's hockey coach Tony Granato discusses returning to play in front of fans at the Kohl Center for the 2021-22 season.

Goaltender Jared Moe replaced Cameron Rowe in the second period of Friday’s 5-2 loss and played well down the stretch. Saturday, it was Rowe’s turn to relieve Moe after the transfer from Minnesota allowed four goals on 14 shots in just over 21 minutes.

Moe was beaten high on the first three goals and the fourth was a tap-in by Parker Saretsky after UW couldn’t clear the puck in a scramble in front of the net.

The Badgers were relying too much on Moe early in the game, and he had to come up with saves on good chances by Bronte, Alec Broetzman and Colin Swoyer before Mersch’s penalty led to Bliss’ goal and a 1-0 lead.

UW broke up Blake Pietila’s shutout attempt early in the third period when Ceulemans’ shot hit Caden Brown, then Mersch’s head and popped up and over the goalie.

The Badgers replaced two freshmen in the forward lines after Friday’s loss. Liam Malmquist and Zach Urdahl exited in favor of two players who made their UW debuts: freshman Brayden Morrison and fifth-year player Max Johnson, a transfer from Bowling Green.

Michigan Tech 3 2 0 — 5

Wisconsin 0 0 1 — 1

First period: MT — Bliss 1 (Swoyer, Parrottino), 11:57 (pp); Broetzman 2 (Nardella, Gotz), 15:41; Bronte 1 (Thorne, Halonen), 19:37 (pp). Penalties: Mosley, MT, 6:14; Mersch, W, 11:27; Bronte, MT, 12:38; Ceulemans, W, 18:48.

Second period: MT — Saretsky 1 (Halonen, Nardella), 1:21; L. Pietila 3 (Broetzman, Gotz), 2:50. Penalties: Karow, MT, 10:53; Baker, W, 17:31.

Third period: W — Mersch 1 (Brown, Ceulemans), 3:11.

Saves: MT (B. Pietila 8-6-7) 21; W (Moe 12-0-x, Rowe x-3-8, Garrity x-x-0) 23. Power plays: MT 2-for-3; W 0-for-3. Att. — 10,618.

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