MADISON — With just under nine minutes left, it looked as though the Michigan hockey team might be gaining some momentum against No. 20 Wisconsin (10-4 Big Ten, 17-10-1 overall) — the Wolverines had gained a lead in shots while the score sat tied at four.
But any semblance of momentum was halted when Wisconsin forward Will Johnson fired a shot toward the net that Badger defenseman Peter Tischke tipped into the net for the game-winning goal en route to a 6-4 victory.
It was a high-scoring game, and the goal-scoring started almost immediately.
Wisconsin forward Luke Kunin controlled the opening faceoff and shot it into the Michigan zone. Fellow Badger forward Matt Ustaski reached the puck first and passed it up to forward Trent Frederic, who beat Michigan goaltender Zach Nagelvoort just eight seconds into the game.
The Wolverines (2-10-2-2, 9-16-3) didn’t stay down for long, though.
Just 35 seconds later, junior forward Tony Calderone corralled the puck behind the net. He then passed it back in front of Wisconsin goaltender Matt Jurusik, where freshman forward James Sanchez was waiting to tie the score at 1-1.
“No one wants to see us get scored on so fast, or in general, for that matter,” said junior forward Cutler Martin. “… I think it was the next shift, we bounced back, scored a goal. That got us back up on our feet, back into the game.”
The teams would go back and forth to end the first period, with Martin scoring one himself for Michigan and Frederic tallying another one for the Badgers.
In the second period, a nice individual effort from Wisconsin forward Aidan Callini put the Badgers back on top. But once again, the Wolverines answered back.
This time, it was junior forward Joseph Cecconi, who ripped one from the blue line to beat Jurusik high to his glove side, evening the score at 3-3. It was the first goal of Cecconi’s career, and after a somewhat subdued celebration, the sophomore collected the puck for himself.
“I’m not a big goal scorer,” Cecconi said. “If I score, when I do score, I’m not going to go down and do the nice celebration like some of the forwards do. I’ve been there before, like any other hockey player, so I was excited. It was awesome to get the first one.
“(The puck) is in my bag right now. I think I’ll probably give it to my dad when I get home, or my grandpa or something like that.”
In the third period, there was more back-and-forth action. After Wisconsin defenseman Jake Linhart scored a goal off his leg, freshman defenseman Luke Martin handled the puck at the Wisconsin blue line. He fired a somewhat slow shot toward Jurusik, and freshman forward Adam Winborg deflected it into the net to tie it up at 4-4.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “I’m tired of saying it with the result that we’re getting. We can’t outscore our mistakes. We’re doing a lot of good things. We missed some chances — even in the last minute, before they got the empty net goal, Sanchez has a rebound chance. If that goes in, the game’s tied up again.
“But that’s what we’re doing. We’re chasing our mistakes, and we weren’t good enough.”
After a disappointing weekend against the Badgers, Michigan will travel to Columbus to take on No. 14 Ohio State next weekend looking to right the ship once again.