Weekend Recap

Perspective is everything, Badger fans. This is especially important to keep in mind when looking back on the Wisconsin men’s hockey team’s rough weekend in Boston.

Friday night saw senior goaltender Adam Miller give up a rebound goal just 12 seconds into the game, and it was all downhill from there as Boston College (#4 in the country, 2-1-0) rolled to an easy 6-0 shutout of the Badgers (0-1-2) at Kelly Rink in Boston. Miller’s rocky start continued as he gave up a long-shot goal from outside the blue line just four minutes later, leading to head coach Mike Eaves replacing him with freshman Matt Jurusik. While the Badgers came out aggressively in the second period, the Eagles proved to be too much for UW, picking apart a young team that appeared overstretched at times while attempting to overcome their slow start.

Saturday night was a different story for the Badgers as sophomore Adam Rockwood struck just 1:22 into the game to give UW an early lead. The Badgers carried that lead into the second period, thanks in large part to a phenomenal performance by Jurusik. The freshman made 40 saves on the night, impressing the coaching staff and possibly giving him the upper-hand in the ongoing battle for the everyday starting goalie position. But, as can be the case when a young team takes on a squad with as much offensive firepower as Boston University (#6 in the country, 1-1-0), even 40 saves from their goalie wasn’t enough to get the win for UW. Two second period goals for BU would prove to be enough to sink the Badgers, but they added two more in the third as insurance en route to a 4-1 victory at Agganis Arena.

While these two blowout losses are certainly disappointing, especially coming off a weekend where the Badgers showed impressive resilience coming back from two late-game deficits, there are still some positives to take away from the trip out east. First, freshman Matt Jurusik was lights out on Saturday night, and kept UW in a game that they truly could have lost by a margin more like that of Friday’s contest if not for his heroic 40 save performance. While the defense obviously needs to make strides in the next few weeks to ensure that he doesn’t get shelled like he did this weekend, it’s encouraging to see a game like that from Jurusik, especially in just his second collegiate start. Additionally, the Badger penalty kill impressed, allowing just two goals on 13 chances this weekend. Any team will struggle to win games when committing 13 penalties in two nights, but discipline will come with experience for the Badgers. For now, having a strong PK unit will give UW a little leniency as they work out their penalty issues.

Three Stars

Third Star: Grant Besse added another point to his stat-line on Saturday night, with an assist on the Badgers’ lone goal of the weekend in a 4-1 loss to BU. While the entire team struggled offensively all weekend, it’s nice to see Besse continue to produce when he can. He is clearly a leader on the ice, and the offense will go as he goes all season long. Gritty points, even in tough losses, set a good example for a young team.

Second Star: Adam Rockwood scored the Badgers’ only goal of the weekend 1:22 into the game on Saturday night, and in doing so continued his impressive play from last weekend. He has looked confident and dangerous with the puck on his stick every night so far, drawing penalties and creating offensive opportunities where he can. Chances were at a premium in Boston this weekend, and it will take more conversions like Rockwood’s on Saturday in order for UW to win games against tough opponents down the road.

First Star: Matt Jurusik has, in my opinion, shown that he is ready to be the everyday starter in net for the Badgers. While the nod was given to senior Adam Miller coming into the season, the freshman got the call after Miller’s shaky start against BC, and followed it up with a jaw-dropping performance Saturday night against BU. 40 saves against one of the top teams in the nation is encouraging for a young team that is sure to see more defensive struggles as the season continues, and will need to rely on solid goaltending to keep them in games.

This Week

The Badgers hit the road again this weekend for a series with Ferris State. The Bulldogs are coming off a series split with Michigan Tech, and should be a better matchup for UW than BC and BU. Look for the Badgers to get back on track offensively, and attempt to take advantage of a good opportunity for the season’s first win.