Wisconsin hockey upended, 4-1, by United States Under-18 Team - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin hockey upended, 4-1, by United States Under-18 Team

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 MADISON, Wis. —The Wisconsin men's hockey team took a break from regular-season action to play an exhibition game Friday night, losing to the United States Under-18 Team, 4-1, at the Kohl Center.

“The lesson of the game was that even though we thought we were prepared, we didn't build our fire before the game,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said. “We tried to scramble throughout the course of the game to get ourselves ready. We didn't make plays. We missed passes in the slot and offensive opportunities that indicated we weren't ready to play.”

2015 UW recruits, goaltender Luke Opilka and forward Luke Kunin, suited up for the opponent in the contest.

Although the Badgers (1-10-1) shared the ice with two future teammates, they took no mercy on Opilka and Kunin.

Wisconsin beat the U.S. (21-6-1, 3-3-1 NCAA DI) goalie 2:48 into the game, marking the team's earliest tally of 2014-15.

Matt Paape received the puck on the right side of the net off a Team USA turnover, stepped to the middle and buried his second goal of the season past Opilka's blocker side.

And just a few minutes later, former U.S. National Team Developmental Program player Ryan Wagner welcomed Kunin to the Kohl Center, plastering the future Badger into the boards as he made a breakout pass.

In the second period, Wisconsin earned its best opportunity to extend the lead on back-to-back power plays late in the frame.

On the first man advantage, Jack Dougherty, who wore the Red, White and Blue last year, received the puck with a clear lane to the net after it squirted out from a crowd and directly to him on the left side of the ice. Dougerty went to the goal mouth, but was denied on the backhand.

Grant Besse had a chance on the second power play, missing a shot just high of the net in the slot.

After a scoreless second frame, the U.S. took hold of the game in the third, as it registered four-straight tallies.

Jack Roslovic fooled Rumpel on a breakaway, forcing the UW goalie to commit before feeding line mate Matthew Tkachuk with a backhand drop pass that he buried top shelf into a wide-open net.

Team USA added another goal just over halfway through the third.

Auston Matthews fired a low shot from the right circle on the power play, which redirected off a UW player's stick and into the net.

Kunin recorded his first goal at the Kohl Center on a wrist shot from the middle hashmarks.

The Chesterfield, Missouri, native finished with the goal and four shots on goal.

To cap the scoring, Matthews tallied an empty-net goal with 1:01 to play.

“They (Team USA) play at a high level,” Eaves said. “They play at a high pace. That first period was really fast. In the long run, I think they made more plays and won more battles. In close quarter battles, they won more pucks.”

Opilka posted 17 saves to earn his 12th win of the season, while Rumpel stopped 30 shots.

“(Opilka) looks solid,” Eaves said. “You notice a goaltender when he stops your own kids. I heard Luke's (Kunin) name: he scored a goal. By watching video, I'll have a better view of what he did offensively and away from the puck, but the fact that he scored is a very good thing.”

The U.S. U-18 Team now moves to 3-3-1 against NCAA Division I competition this season. The team previously beat Miami, 3-0, on Oct. 4 and Minnesota, 5-4, on Nov. 21.

“They (Team USA) are very solid,” Chase Drake said. “If you look at their track record against other NCAA teams, they preform well against them. They are talented, they are physical and they can skate. That is what you look for in a team.”

Wisconsin will have a three-week break for finals and the holidays before hosting Michigan Tech Jan. 2-3 to bring in the New Year.
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