No doubt about it, things weren't nearly as easy as they were in Thursday's shutout win, but Wisconsin Men's hockey completed their first sweep of the season by coming back in a 4-1 victory over Alabama-Huntsville and moving their record to 4-7-5 overall as they take some time off before the start of the 2nd half of the season in a few weeks. Wisconsin fans, players, and coaches have to be happy with some sort of positive momentum – no matter the opponent – as the 2nd half looms large for their chances of doing anything in the postseason.
Wisconsin's four goals came from four different players, but it was Derek Lee who was the star offensively as he recorded a goal and an assist. Lee was one of just two Badgers to record multiple points on the night as Michael Mersch had 2 assists. Heck, even Joel Rumpel got in on the point tally, recording an assist in the victory.
Unlike last night this wasn't as complete a domination as the score line might tell you. Wisconsin came out sluggish at best and UAH was up to the task offensively. They clearly weren't going to be held to just nine shots in this one.
Things were pretty even through much of the 1st period, however the Badgers took 2 penalties late that led to a 5-on-3 advantage for the Chargers. It was all the advantage Alabama-Huntsville needed as they netted the game's first goal at 18:53 of the period, going up 1-0.
Wisconsin came out and killed off the remainder of the penalty to start the 2nd period and it sure looked like the goal woke up the sleeping giant so to speak as they tied up the game just 2:25 into the frame on a goal by Joseph LaBate (2). It was assisted by Michael Mersch (3) and Jake McCabe (7).
A little over 11 minutes later it was Kevin Schulze lighting the lamp for his first goal as a Badger with assists coming from Derek Lee (11) and Mersch (4). That goal turned out to be the game winner as well, something Schulze won't soon be forgetting anytime soon.
The UW penalty kill came up huge in the 2nd period, holding off 2 UAH Power Play opportunities and as the horn sounded to end the 2nd period it was 2-1 Wisconsin.
However dull things appeared they may be for the 1st half of the 3rd period the Badgers had other things planned in the 2nd half of the period. Derek Lee added the 1st insurance goal at the 11:35 mark of the period, just his 2nd of the year, on an absolute breakdown by the Chargers defense. They passed the puck through the face of goal with Lee standing right there. He picked it off, made the goaltender make the 1st move and slotted it home.
The game was put completely out of reach when Brendan Woods netted his 2nd goal of the season at the 14:38 mark of the game. Ryan Little and goaltender Joel Rumpel were given assists on the goal. It was the 1st assists of the season for both of them.
Overall this game was much more of a challenge for the Badgers as they only held a 30-22 shots advantage on the night and committed 8 penalties on the night as well. Thankfully the Chargers were just 1-5 on their power play or this could've been a much closer affair.
Wisconsin is off for their annual winter break and won't take to the ice until they head to a series at Alaska-Anchorage on Jan. 4th and 5th.