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Second-period stumble costs Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey team in loss to No. 6 Michigan

Second-period stumble costs Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey team in loss to No. 6 Michigan

From the Look back on State Journal coverage of Badgers men's hockey games in the 2020-21 season series
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Two major elements of the undoing for the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team Thursday night were old standbys from past seasons.

A quick change of fortunes and penalty killing shortcomings foiled the 14th-ranked Badgers in a 5-2 loss to No. 6 Michigan that brought a halt to a winning start to the season.

The Wolverines scored three times in the final 5 minutes, 22 seconds of the second period to turn a deficit into a two-goal lead going into the intermission.

Michigan scored on its first two power-play tries and made them look easy.

“You look at the overall picture of the game, we lost the game but there were lots of times during that game we felt we were in complete control and played some good hockey,” UW coach Tony Granato said.

The Badgers had only cutouts, a few scouts, members of the media and working staff watching in person as they made their debut at LaBahn Arena, their home during the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve practiced in the venue since it opened in 2012 but had never played a game there.

Saving on the cost of changing the adjacent Kohl Center from a hockey rink to a basketball court and back repeatedly over the season was one of the primary reasons for the move to the smaller building while fans aren’t allowed to attend.

Artificial crowd noise was pumped through the speakers to keep the building from being largely silent.

“As far as fans go, I block that out anyway so it’s not a huge difference to me besides a little bit of noise in the tenser parts of the game,” senior defenseman Josh Ess said.

In completing a season-opening road sweep of Notre Dame last Saturday, the Badgers quickly pulled out of what could have been a tailspin after allowing goals. On Thursday, the outcome was different.

In a tone-changing segment of the second period, Michigan (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten) outworked the Badgers (2-1, 2-1) on one goal, made a pretty play on the second and used a defensive lapse on the third.

UW generated 31 of the 51 shot attempts in the middle frame but the Wolverines hit the net on three of their final four.

“They were just getting pucks to the net and good line rushes and we were getting caught in the neutral zone,” Ess said. “They got a little bit of momentum and kept flowing after that.”

Michael Pastujov outbattled UW forward Jack Gorniak atop the crease to get his stick on his own rebound and tie the game at 1-1 with the first of his two goals.

After UW’s Tyler Inamoto was called for interference, Thomas Bordeleau found a seam through the penalty kill to hit Brendan Brisson in the right circle for a one-timer that had the Badgers trailing for the first time this season.

“We should have been in better position to defend that one,” Granato said.

And with the clock winding down, the Badgers got sloppy in their own zone. Roman Ahcan appeared to slide too far toward the boards, giving Eric Ciccolini plenty of space to collect a pass in the right circle and fire past Robbie Beydoun (29 saves) with 3.2 seconds left.

Strauss Mann made 18 saves in the second period for the Wolverines, including a breakaway stop on Cole Caufield when the Badgers were leading 1-0.

UW missed a chance to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 2004. After going eight straight games without losing to Michigan in Madison, the Badgers have lost their last two in the series.

And they lost top-line center Ty Pelton-Byce to a scary-looking injury in the opening minute of the third period. The senior went face-first into the end boards at full speed after getting tangled up with Michigan’s Brendan Brisson.

Pelton-Byce spent a few minutes on the ice before sitting up and being helped into a nearby exam room. Granato said Pelton-Byce was “doing fine” and did not need to be hospitalized but he was unsure of the senior’s status for Friday’s game.

Ess put the Badgers ahead late in the first period after work by Caufield and Linus Weissbach freed the puck and Pelton-Byce moved it out to the point.

After falling behind in the second, Weissbach finished off a pretty give-and-go with Caufield on the power play resulting from Pelton-Byce’s injury to cut UW’s deficit to 3-2 in the third.

But UW captain Ty Emberson was called for roughing on a hit along the boards, and it took only 15 seconds for the Michigan power play to strike when Johnny Beecher was left alone in front.

The Badgers were 53rd of 60 teams nationally in penalty kill last season and allowed goals on the Wolverines’ first two chances Thursday. Having sticks in lanes is what UW was missing, Ess said.

“They’re a good passing team and have good vision so we have to be patient when they have full possession and come back and do it better tomorrow,” he said.

What’s different in Big Ten hockey this season? A look at standings, tiebreakers, travel, crowd noise

Michigan 0 3 2 — 5

Wisconsin 1 0 1 — 2

First period: W — Ess 1 (Pelton-Byce, Weissbach), 18:50.

Second period: M — Pastujov 1 (Bordeleau, Granowicz), 14:38; Brisson 1 (Bordeleau, York), 18:18 (pp); Ciccolini 2 (Beniers, Johnson), 19:56. Penalties: Lambert, M, :32; Inamoto, W, 17:40.

Third period: W — Weissbach 2 (C. Caufield, Baker), 1:01 (pp). M — Beecher 1 (Lambert, Brisson), 3:58 (pp); Pastujov 2 (Moyle), 19:00 (en). Penalties: Brisson, M, :18; Emberson, W, 3:43; Moyle, M, 9:23; Ahcan, W, 10:34; R. Donovan, W, 12:39.

Saves: M (Mann 4-18-4) 26; W (Beydoun 10-11-8) 29. Power plays: M 2-for-4; W 1-for-3.


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