Wisconsin closes out non-conference schedule with 7-4 loss to Om - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin closes out non-conference schedule with 7-4 loss to Omaha

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MADISON, Wis.—Following Friday night’s comeback against Omaha, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team found themselves in a similar situation on Saturday, needing to come from behind by two goals.

The Badgers (7-6-1, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) would make that comeback for the second night in a row, and actually took the lead, but ultimately dropped the series finale to the Mavericks (8-5-3, 3-3-0-0 NCHC) by a score of 7-4.

Wisconsin has been plagued at times this season with giving up goals within the first minute of the game and tonight it came back to haunt them once again. Omaha opened up the scoring just 55 seconds into the first period on a breakaway goal by Austin Ortega.

“It starts from the beginning and I didn’t think we had a good enough start again tonight. We just have to play our game and do the things we need to do to be successful,” sophomore forward Luke Kunin said.  

UW settled down for the remainder of the period, gaining more of the offensive momentum following the opening tally, outshooting UNO 11-6 in the first period.

“I thought we did a good job of forgetting that,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I thought we got to our game as the first period went on. It is tough, obviously we want better starts here.”  

Omaha’s top-ranked power play struck in the second period to give the Mavericks a 2-0 lead three minutes into the middle frame.

Wisconsin showed its grit and resiliency following UNO’s second goal as Grant Besse scored a power-play goal to cut the Badgers’ deficit to 2-1. The senior forward picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it past Omaha goaltender Kris Oldham.

The Cardinal and White pulled even late in the second period after Kunin scored his eighth goal of the season. A scramble in front of the UNO saw the puck deflect off of Kunin’s body and into the net.

Following two periods of play, Wisconsin led in shots on goal 26-17.

The third period was the most entertaining of the game, a frame which included seven goals between both teams.

The Mavericks regained the lead three minutes into the third, but Jason Ford’s second goal of the season knotted the game at 3-3 with under 10 minutes to go in regulation.

The Badgers took their first lead of the night 1:26 after Ford’s goal on Kunin’s second tally of the night on a deflection in front of the Omaha goal. Assists went to Cullen Hurley and Tim Davison on the play.

“We talked about, from last night’s game, the comeback and how we played. We felt really good about ourselves tonight,” Granato said. “Our start wasn’t great again, but we battled like crazy to get the lead and then once we took the lead, it wasn’t like we sat back and gave them the chances. We just made mistakes.”  

The Mavericks tied the game at 4-4 about 37 seconds later and would retake the lead for good with five and a half minutes to go. They went on to add an insurance goal and an empty-net marker to seal the game, 7-4.

“I feel like we did have the momentum and there were just a couple tough shifts,” Ford said. “That’s how hockey goes sometimes – you can lose the momentum pretty quickly. We have to bring hard effort throughout the entire game. If we do that we’ll be fine.”

The Badgers will hit the road next weekend to open up their conference schedule against Michigan. Friday night’s game will start at 6:30 p.m. CT and will air on ESPNEWS. The game will also broadcast on WIBA-AM 1310. Saturday’s tilt will also start at 6:30 p.m. CT and can be streamed on BTN Plus or heard on WIBA-AM 1310 and the Badger Sports Network.

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