The Badgers lost two games and three spots in the NCAA men’s hockey rankings last weekend, as they were swept by Penn State at home. They were looking for a bounce back series against the Michigan Wolverines this weekend, who they split a series with in Ann Arbor in early December. The Badgers were able to get back on track with consecutive wins, both featuring offensive explosion and some defensive prowess.
On Friday night, the Badgers struck first on a Trent Frederic goal midway through the first frame. Michigan tied it up early in the second on the power play, but the Badgers regained momentum when Cameron Hughes potted one on the power play with 7:54 to go in the second.
Evan Allen would tie it up one more time for the Wolverines in the third period, but the Badgers battled back and put the game away.
Trent Frederic scored the first goal of the late surge with 9:37 to play in the period. Luke Kunin and Corbin McGuire assisted, each finishing the night with two helpers.
“When they tied it 2-2 was when I thought our team stepped up,” head coach Tony Granato told the media after the game. “Luke Kunin made a great pass to Trent Frederic and [Cavallini’s] pass to Zirbel. I thought those were big moments and big for our team.”
Jarod Zirbel scored the first insurance goal 7:20 later, and Seamus Malone put the game away 18 seconds later with a tally of his own.
When asked whether his team put forth a complete performance, Granato said,”I don’t know about a full 60 minutes, but there was a 10-minute or so in the second that showed how we need to play for 60 minutes. I thought our energy, pursuit, our five working on one was pretty apparent in the second period. There were parts of the game that were really good… That’s a team that plays hard and physical and we’ll take it. We’ll try to be better tomorrow and see if we can get another one.”
On Saturday the Badgers came out with the same fire they closed Friday night’s game with. Eight seconds into the game Trent Frederic recorded the fastest goal in UW history.
The Wolverines, however, did not waver. Michigan bounced back, scoring 35 seconds later, one of two goals in four minutes. James Sanchez and Cutler Martin scored the goals, Martin’s being his third against the Badgers this season.
Despite surrendering an early lead, the Badgers gained new life as Trent Frederic netted his second goal of the period while shorthanded at the end of the first period.
“[Frederic] reads it well, he’s a brilliant hockey player as far as recognizing opportunities where a player is vulnerable to turn the puck over,” Granato told uwbadgers.com. “It seems like every time Luke and Freddy are on the ice, they’re a threat offensively which puts a lot of pressure on the power-play unit.”
Aidan Cavallini gave the Badgers their second lead of the game early in the second period, as he netted his fourth goal of the year from Cameron Hughes and Grant Besse, but the Wolverines bounced back again.
The Badgers held of UM for the next 10:57, but Joseph Cecconi tied the game up once more before the period drew to a close.
The third period was more of the same. Jake Linhart broke the tie for the Badgers 7:36 into the period but again, 51 seconds later, Adam Winborg tied it up for the Wolverines.
Peter Tischke finally scored the game winning goal four minutes later, the second consecutive goal scored by Badger defenseman.
“We made it hard on their forwards with our D driving the play in the third period and we were able to create some on the rush with the active D,” Granato told the media. “Obviously two defensemen got goals for us, so it was a big third period.”
Aidan Cavallini sealed the game with his second goal of the game during the final minute. It was his second goal at the Kohl Center this year and his fifth overall.
“People say to play every game like your last and I think now that’s actually starting to hit me hard because when you’re younger you don’t think about it,” Cavallini told uwbadgers.com. “It’s definitely pretty special but I just really care about winning and having a good finish to this year.”
A good finish to the year starts next week, as the Badgers travel to the Twin Cities to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The two teams are neck and neck in the standings, and the Badgers will have to play these upcoming games like their last if they want a shot at a Big Ten title.
- Trent Freshman? Trent Frederic may be a freshman, but he has been spectacular this year, playing beyond his years. He scored four goals this weekend including a record setting goal 8 second into the game and one shorthanded goal. “I think the puck was coming to me and guys were making nice plays and I just happened to be there,” said Frederic. “It was a good weekend and good to get two wins.”
- Veteran Leadership. Aside from (and including) the usual suspects, the upper-class men on the team played great this weekend. The usual suspects – Cameron Hughes, Ryan Wagner, Grant Besse, Jake Linhart – combined for two goals and seven assists; but we have become accustomed to great weekends from these players. It’s guys like Corbin McGuire, Matt Ustaski and Aidan Cavallini that we have been waiting to see produce. Led by Cavallini’s two goals and one assist, these three combined for two goals and four assists on the weekend. Peter Tischke, although only a sophomore, can also be put in this category. He was poised all weekend and provided the Badgers with a game winning goal and two assists. Captain Luke Kunin also played big this weekend, despite not scoring any goals. He did have four assists, but his leadership this weekend was best displayed by his willingness to sacrifice his body to block shots. “I’m glad you see that because there’s no stats on the stat sheet that says the time of the game or the situation that we’re in,” Granato said after the game. “He’s done it all year for us, he did it in the world junior championships and got a gold medal for his team there. That’s a great example for how our team is supposed to play.”
- Jack Berry Rebounds. This phrase can have two meanings: a) rebounds (v): when one recovers and plays way better than last week’s subpar performance OR b) rebounds (n): the things Berry gave up in significantly fewer quantities this week, compared to last week’s rebound free-for-all against Penn State. As far as definition ‘a’ goes, Jack Berry was clearly sharper than last week. After looking spectacular in previous weeks, Berry laid an egg last weekend, surrendering five goals on 30 shots. Berry looked much better this week, allowing only two goals on 27 shots. For definition ‘b,’ it was apparent that Berry’s rebound control last week was off. He hadn’t given up five goals since getting blown out by Omaha in the first week of December. Berry did a much better job of it this weekend, and when he didn’t, his teammates were there to help him out. “I think it starts in practice, obviously just getting confidence back. Working with Sangs (goalie coach Jeff Sanger) a bit, he definitely works on rebound control,” Berry told uwbadgers.com. “There were a few in the first period there that got away from me, but the guys did a great job clearing out pucks in front of me.” Often the teams go as their goalies go. When Berry and Jurusik are sharp, the Badgers are a very dangerous team.
1. Trent Frederic (4 goals)
2. Aidan Cavallini (2 goals, 1 assist)
3. Cameron Hughes (1 goal, 3 assists)