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Badgers hockey passes 1st road test

Sometimes quality matters more than quantity. That certainly was the case for the Wisconsin Badgers, as they took advantage of limited offensive opportunities in a 5-2 victory over the Boston College Eagles.

Despite the Eagles out-shooting the Badgers 31-22 on the night, things went the Badgers way on the scoreboard. The win also snapped a four-game losing streak to one of the biggest powers in college hockey.

Wisconsin struggled for large parts of the first half, turning the puck over too much in the neutral zone and putting goaltender Kyle Hayton under intense pressure.

After plenty of turnovers of its own, Wisconsin took advantage of one of the few Eagles turnovers late in the first period.

Linus Weissbach snipped a BC pass at center ice and he made a great drop pass to Trent Frederic at the top of the offensive zone. Frederic lit the lamp from distance at the 17:17 mark of the 1st period, making it 1-0 Badgers.

However, the quantity also paid off as Boston College tied the game up at 18:51 on a Power Play goal from the left face-off circle in Badgers territory. Hayton was beaten over his shoulder, but had a fantastic rest of the first period.

He survived two big blasts on his doorstep and a sneaky pass to the backside of a play that meant 1-on-1 with the forward from distance. It was a sign of things to come from the senior, as Hayton backed up the struggling Badgers effort with 29 stops on those 31 shots on goal.

“I think Kyle (Hayton) played great, that’s a fast team that causes turnovers because of their speed and quickness,” head coach Tony Granato said. “We did make some mistakes that you’d like to clean up, but Kyle was there to cover for us.”

Shots ended 8-5 to the advantage of the hosts in the period though, thanks to a few opportunities on UW’s own power play in the period.

BC continued to out-shoot the Badgers in the second period, but once again it was the Badgers taking advantage of the lesser of the chances.

It didn’t take long for UW to snipe back, as senior defender Tim Davison put the Badgers back on top with a blast from the top of the face-off zone at the 1:16 of the period. Baker got the assist on the go-ahead goal.

Hayton continued to stand on his head, keeping the Badgers from giving up a few goals right back.

That confidence from net streamed out to the other parts of the team, as UW doubled their lead thanks to a great effort from Seamus Malone in front of the net at the 12:04 of the period.

It was a good thing the Badgers weren’t done being opportunistic on the night, because Boston College wasn’t going down without a fight.

Wisconsin appeared to lock the game in with its fourth goal of the game as Matthew Freytag lit the lamp for the first time this season early on in the third period.

Freytag’s goal meant all four lines saw points in this game, showing how complete the effort was for the Badgers.

“I thought Freytag, that line with Zimmer and Ford, were outstanding and probably our most consistent line that played the best and smartest road game,” Granato said. “That was very encouraging, I thought they were a big factor in the game.”

But, Boston College put all sorts of pressure on UW after that. It led to the Eagles’ second goal of the game at the 10:15 mark of the third period.

Hayton continued to play well and the defense was on point as BC continued its offensive pressure.

Wisconsin added a late empty-netter from freshman Tarek Baker, his third of the young season, to put the game out of reach once again at 5-2 with just under a minute to play.

The Badgers will close out the trip to Massachusetts with a game at Merrimack College at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday. The game can be streamed at MerrimackAthletics.com and will broadcast on 1070 WTSO.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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