Badgers men's hockey splits weekend showdown with Merrimack - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Badgers men's hockey splits weekend showdown with Merrimack

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MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin men’s hockey team was looking to build momentum on a season that hasn’t seen them win or lose more than two games in a row.

However, they were unable to do that after beating Merrimack (5-6-3, 0-2-3 Hockey East) on Friday night. The Warriors shutout the Badgers (6-4-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) by a score of 2-0 on Saturday night to earn a series split.

“I just think the start of the game tonight was something that maybe with the success we had last night, we weren’t sharp mentally to start the game,” head coach Tony Granato said. “We want to grow and get better as a team, you have to learn and I think that that was a pretty good hockey team over there.”

The Badgers struggled to find offensive continuity in the first period as they were outshot by Merrimack by a count of 16-7 in the frame. The Warriors opened the scoring 13:23 into the period on a goal from Sami Tavernier.

Sophomore goalie Matt Jurusik got the nod in between the pipes after freshman Jack Berry started in goal on Friday. Jurusik would make 13 saves in the first period but was forced to leave the game after a Merrimack player fell on the back of his leg. Berry came on in relief and finished the period with two saves of his own.

"Those situations are never easy to come into,” Berry said. “You're thinking about him in the back of your head. The guys played well in front of me and limited the team to outside shots."

UW started to gain momentum on the offensive side of the puck but Merrimack wound up scoring the next goal 5:52 into the second period after a blocked shot by the Badgers fell right on the stick of Mathieu Tibbet, who buried it in a wide-open net.

"There was tough bounce on the first one there, but I thought the guys did a great job of keeping it out on the perimeter,” Berry said.  

The Cardinal and White outshot the Warriors 26-13 in the second and third period but they were unable to find the back of the net in the game. Merrimack killed off all six Wisconsin power plays, which has been a strong point for the Badgers so far this season.

“We might even fool around with the combinations a little bit,” Granato said. “I think sometimes when you use the same players over and over sometimes it gets a little bit stale and you get a little bit flat footed, and then the recoveries aren’t always there.”

Next weekend, the Badgers will head for the Rocky Mountains as they face off against Colorado College on Friday night and Denver on Saturday night.

Friday night’s matchup is set to begin at 8:30 p.m. CT and will be available for streaming on NCHC.tv and on the radio on WIBA-AM 1310 and the Badger Radio Network. Saturday’s tilt will start at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised on Altitude 2 with streaming available on NCHC.tv and a radio broadcast yet to be determined.

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