Badgers hockey wins season opener 5-2, but has plenty to correct too

When the final horn sounded the scoreboard read 5-2 and one could assume the Badgers dominated Northern Michigan to win it's first season opener since 2007. 

However, a closer examination of things showed a team and a game that was completely sloppy for the most part. 

Wisconsin may have outshot Northern Michigan 38-20 and they may have outscored the visitors, but the Badgers also committed a ton of errors. 

In fact, it's safe to say Mike Eaves won't be happy with seeing his team commit nine penalties on the night. Overall there were 16 penalties committed between the two teams. 

During his postgame radio interview, Eaves talked about cleaning up the mental mistakes that caused a few penalties, but also pointed to the need for players and refs to adjust to how they will be calling certain things. He went as far to say that some of Friday night's mistakes were due to the officials calling the game by the "letter of the law." 

On the flip side though, the Badgers got some huge performances on the offensive side of things, with five players registering multi-point games. Tyler Barnes, Michael Mersch, Jake McCabe, Nic Kerdiles and Mark Zengerle all recorded two points in the win.

All five of Wisconsin’s goals were scored by five different players in the win and that is also good news, especially given the fact that UW leaned on one or two players to score a ton for them last season.

Wisconsin’s season scoring account opened early on Friday night, as it took just over five minutes for the Badgers to score. Forward Joseph LaBate lit the lamp at the 5:07 mark and putting Wisconsin up 1-0. Michael Mersch and Nic Kerdiles got the assists on the opening goal.

The Badgers doubled up Northern Michigan just over 2 and a half minutes later as Jake McCabe put one in the net on a short-handed rush at the 7:39 mark of the first period. Nic Kerdiles picked up his second assist in as many goals and fellow forward Mark Zengerle got an assist as well.

Kerdiles showed why this team has won so many games with him on the ice, finishing the game with a team best +3 for the night. 

Wisconsin finished off the first period in style, as Michael Mersch netted an hugely important power-play goal at the 17:59 mark of the period. Tyler Barnes and the previous goal scorer, Jake McCabe, were credited with assists on the goal. 

If you are keeping score, that means the Badgers managed an even-strength, short-handed and power-play goal in one period of action. 

Things would settle down for most of the second period, but Northern Michigan took some momentum late in the period and opened its own season account on a power-play goal by CJ Ludwig at the 17:51 mark of the period. 

However, UW slammed any hope of a comeback right back in the face of the Wildcats, as Tyler Barnes netted the fourth goal of the game for the Badgers at the 18:58 mark of the period and got the bonus of a delayed penalty on the goal as well. 

Wisconsin outshot Northern Michigan 13-8, but were 0-of-3 on the power-play in the period. 

The Badgers got a great glimpse of the future early in the final period as star-recruit Grant Besse got his first goal of his career at the 1:43 mark to put his team up 5-1. His goal was a thing of beauty as he ripped the shot using great hands and vision. 

Unfortunately, just 8,092 people were in attendance at the Kohl Center to see the goal and the No. 3 team in the nation win its season opener.

Besse wasn't the only freshman to open his account on the night either, as forward Jedd Soleway picked up an assist on the Besse goal and may have been one of the most impressive players on the night. He was always around the puck and was very busy overall during his shifts.

Northern Michigan would close out the scoring on the night with a late garbage goal at 18:41 by Stephan Viger. 

Some were surprised to hear that Landon Peterson would be between the pipes to open this season, given Joel Rumpel's hot end to 2012-13. However, Peterson proved Eave's hunch right and he stopped 18-of-20 shots in the win. 

These two teams will square off in the series finale tomorrow night at 8pm CT from the Kohl Center, so if you are in Madison for the football game, mosey on over to the Kohl Center after and take in the hockey game—this team deserves better support than they got tonight.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy has been covering college football for nearly half a decade and is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadgers.com. He's also a featured columnist covering college football for Bleacher Report.

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