MADISON — Just four weeks after splitting the season opening series in Green Bay against Northern Michigan University, the Badgers faced the Wildcats at home in their third and penultimate meeting of the season.

The Badgers lost the season opener in a low scoring game 3-2, and then won a high-scoring thriller 6-5 the next night. Last night, the Badgers scored two goals and allowed five in what would prove to be a lopsided game. But it wasn’t for a lack of offensive effort; the Badgers got 36 shots through to the net, but Wildcats goalie Mathias Israelsson was there to stop 34 of them.

The Badgers face the Wildcats again tomorrow night at 7:00pm, but first here are three takeaways from tonight’s loss.

1. Goalie Battle

Just about 30 seconds into the game, Wisconsin turned the puck over in their own zone along the boards. Nearly five seconds after that, Northern Michigan’s Zach Diamantoni put the puck past Wisconsin goalie Matt Jurusik for the score. It was the first shot of the game and the first of a total of 10 shots seen by Jurusik on the night. Jurusik allowed all four goals on 10 shots before being pulled early in the second period. Freshman Jack Berry came on in relief, stopping the final six shots including an acrobatic goal line stop, and giving the Badgers plenty of time to get back in the game.

After the game, Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato spoke about Berry’s performance in relief this season.

“He’s been really solid. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to come back,” said Granato.

When asked about the future of the starting goalie job, Granato only gave comment about the near future. Granato said, “He’ll [Berry] play… [and] there’s a good chance he’ll start tomorrow.”

Jurusik’s future as starter is in question, but Berry has a lot to prove before he can officially take Jurusik’s job. This goalie battle will be an interesting one to watch in the coming weeks.

2. Defense is Key

The Badgers had trouble covering the rush tonight. They only allowed 17 total shots on net, but more than a few were great chances off the rush. The Badgers’ top line of Grant Besse, Luke Kunin and Cameron Hughes looked a step slow defensively all night, and finished the game -4, -3 and -4 respectively. The only Badger forward with a positive plus/minus was Seamus Malone, who finished +1 after converting on a penalty shot midway through the third period.

The Wildcats on the other hand, despite giving up 36 shots on goal, played relatively well defensively. The shots got through to goalie Mathias Israelsson but a Northern Michigan player was there each time to clear the rebound.

“They battled rally hard to protect their netfront,” said Granato after the game. “We had our chances.”

3. Converting on Rebounds

Speaking of rebounds, the Badgers scored most of their goals last weekend on second chance opportunities. Not only were the Badgers unable to jam home a rebound tonight, they were only able to score when they had a man advantage. Trent Frederic scored on the Badgers’ first goal of the night on the power play after weaving through the entire Wildcat penalty kill and sniping home a shot between the circles. Seamus Malone then converted on a late penalty shot, a one-on-zero opportunity.

“[The Wildcats] came in hungry,” said Granato. “They made the most of their scoring chances.” If the Badgers had crashed the net harder, they may have been able to jam home some more goals and make a game out of it down the stretch. Granato expects his team to come out with a similar hunger tomorrow night and, once again, split the series with Northern Michigan.

Three Stars

3rd star: Zach Diamantoni (1G, 1A)

2nd star: Dominik Shine (2G, GWG)

1st star: Mathias Israelsson (34 saves on 36 shots)