Wisconsin drops men's hockey home opener to No. 2 North Dakota - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin drops men's hockey home opener to No. 2 North Dakota

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MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin men's hockey team fought a back-and-forth battle with the No. 2-ranked team in the country, but a short-handed goal late in the game proved to be the difference, as North Dakota won, 4-3, at the Kohl Center.

“The emotion that was in the locker room was disappointment,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “We'll be judged on the wins and losses, but on the inside there were some things that we did well that we will build on. We need to be better and we will be better. We play good teams like North Dakota, it draws us up to a higher level, and we'll be playing at a higher level because of the way we played tonight.”

With three weeks of practice since their last action, the Badgers grabbed hold of their first lead of the season with a Chase Drake (Mosinee, Wisconsin) power-play tally 3:36 into the second period.

The Badgers did not hold onto the lead long, though.

Connor Gaarder evened the score less than three minutes later, shoving a rebound behind Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel.

Unlike the first period, UW would finish the second with an advantage.

Skating down the right side of the ice, Jedd Soleway pulled the puck into his body, quickly wristing a shot off the left post and across the goal line. Despite trailing, 29-17, in shots after the two periods of play, the Badgers were in position to win the game with just 20 minutes to play.

“We had a 2-1 lead going into the third period against the No. 2 team in the country,” Eaves said, “we would have taken that if somebody had told us that would've been it."

Three-straight goals in the third frame, including a short-handed top-shelf tally on a breakaway by Michael Parks, turned the momentum in UND's favor and sent UND to its 27th win in Madison all-time.

With time winding down in the contest and the Badgers trailing by two goals, it looked as if UND would take the game with ease. But a shot from the right point by Chase Drake that snuck by North Dakota goaltender Zane McIntyre at the 19:41 mark made the game interesting.

Although UW pressured for the final 18.1 seconds, North Dakota held on to earn its sixth victory of the season and third-straight against the Badgers.

Rumpel made 39 saves in the loss—just two shy of his career-high. Following the game, Eaves could only describe his net minder's play in one word: brilliant.

“Rumps is going to have to play well, steady the ship, let us get some experience and then we can start figuring out how to win some games,” Eaves said.

Kevin Schulze led all players with seven blocked shots, as the Badgers denied a total of 17 in the game.

Wisconsin will complete its series with North Dakota with a 7 p.m. Saturday tilt at the Kohl Center. The game will air live on the Wisconsin Channel.

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