Wolverines win shootout, 2-0, tie Wisconsin
MADISON — With two minutes left in regulation Saturday night, the Michigan hockey team believed it had sealed the deal.
The Wolverines held a 4-3 lead over Wisconsin, and the Badgers had pulled their goaltender Kyle Hayton in exchange for an extra attacker. No. 17 Michigan almost ensured an upset of the ninth-ranked Badgers, but barely missed an empty net scoring opportunity.
Wisconsin wasn’t ready to let Michigan play spoiler, though. With just 1:10 remaining on the clock, the Badgers made use of their extra offensive body, and Wisconsin forward Cameron Hughes tacked on a late equalizer to send the game to overtime. The Badgers were hungry for their first series sweep of the season.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Pearson said. “To come all the way back and fight like we did in the third period, and to give up that goal when we have just over a minute to go. It’s frustrating.”
The Wolverines could have succumbed to that disappointment and thrown away a game they had overwhelmingly dominated. But Michigan stood its ground.
Fighting through a fast-paced, nail-biting overtime, the Wolverines came out alive Saturday, after taking their largest blow of the season the night before. Michigan (2-2-2-1 Big Ten, 6-4-2 overall) settled for a 4-4 draw with Wisconsin (3-2-1-0, 8-5-2) at the Kohl Center, and won the shootout, 2-0.
Though the Wolverines struggled to get on the board early in their last three outings, Michigan refused to fall into the same trap Saturday night.
Just 1:36 into the game, junior forward Cooper Marody knocked in a wrist shot off an impressive feed from freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes, giving the Wolverines the early lead they had been seeking.
“Start on time,” Pearson said. “It’s the first thing I wrote on the board tonight. Not 10 minutes in, or 20 minutes later. And we did.”
Michigan built off that momentum, dominating the ice early in the first period. Just five minutes after first getting on the scoreboard, the upperclassmen line put up another point, widening the margin to 2-0. Marody set up senior forward Tony Calderone right off the faceoff, and the captain ripped the puck into the top right shelf past Wisconsin goaltender Kyle Hayton.
The Badgers saw one of their most viable opportunities to tighten the gap just after they returned to full strength following a penalty midway through the period. Wisconsin forward Jason Ford rushed out of the box to challenge sophomore goaltender Hayden Lavigne one-on-one, but the netminder stood tall to stifle Ford’s chance.
But the period was nowhere near over. After a series of profitless power plays on both sides of the puck, freshman forward Jack Becker was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking with under a minute remaining on the clock. Four seconds before the first intermission, the Badgers capitalized on their man advantage. Wisconsin forward Ryan Wagner tipped in a deflected puck, putting the Badgers on the board and bringing the game to 2-1 just in time for the break.
Wisconsin — after putting up a pedestrian five shots on target throughout the entire first period — came out of the gates firing in the second, with a flurry of four shots on goal over the first two minutes of play.
The Wolverines and Badgers began a back-and-forth battle during the first half of the second period. Neither team was able to find the net, with both teams killing a penalty in the first 10 minutes of the stanza.
Halfway through the period, a Wisconsin goal was redacted, as after further review, the puck was determined to be kicked into the net. Immediately following the review, though, the Badgers were awarded a power play off a penalty on Hughes for slashing.
And the Badgers made sure that they would get the equalizer that they believed had just been put in.
Seventeen seconds into their man advantage, Wisconsin forward Linus Weissbach slapped the puck past Lavigne, tying the game, 2-2, for the first time of the night. It wouldn’t be the last Lavigne would see of Weissbach either, as less than four minutes later, the forward pounced again — this time when the Badgers were at full strength. Weissbach again evaded the goaltender, notching the go-ahead goal for Wisconsin and its first lead of the game.
In the remaining minutes of the period, both teams kept up intensity on attack, but were unable to convert on their chances. The second period demonstrated a noticeable shift in energy for the Badgers’ offense, as it outshot Michigan 18 to 9, following a stanza in which it tallied half the count of the Wolverines.
Michigan entered the final period undaunted by its first deficit. Three minutes into the period — off a crisp set up in the center from Hughes — sophomore forward Jake Slaker buried the puck into the top shelf beyond Hayton’s grasp. Once again, the game was tied.
With eight minutes remaining the final period, sophomore forward Nick Pastujov skated between two Wisconsin defensemen in the Badgers’ zone, sending the puck towards Hayton. Though the netminder stretched out his leg, it wouldn’t be enough, and Pastujov’s shot gave Michigan a 4-3 lead.
The Badgers then secured the game-tying goal with an extra attacker on the ice, sending the game to an overtime period. Neither team could capitalize on the extra five minutes, despite numerous chances on both sides of the puck.
The game ended in a tie, but with two unanswered shootout points from Marody and Calderone, the Wolverines were able to claim the additional point in the conference standings.
“Again, a lot of character (from our team),” Marody said. “We had a lead, they came back, they took the lead from us … but we came out hard in the third period, and got contributions from everybody which is huge. You can’t win without that.”