After dispatching Boston College on Friday night despite losing the shooting battle, the Wisconsin Badgers repeated the feat in a 4-1 victory over the Merrimack College Warriors on Saturday night.
Wisconsin used a crazy second period to wrestle control of this game in their favor. After seeing an initial lead disappear, UW used a power play goal and two more in a span of 39 seconds to put the Warriors away.
The win meant a weekend sweep of a trip to Massachusetts and a 4-1-0 start to the 2017-18 season for the No. 10-ranked Badgers.
UW’s third-straight win came despite being out-shot once again, this time 42-34 by Merrimack.
Once again, it was senior goaltender Kyle Hayton coming up big between the pipes. He stopped a season-high 41 shots by the Warriors and made sure UW came away with the sweep. The Badgers are a perfect 4-0-0 with him in net.
While the Badgers offense wasn’t exactly a slouch on the offensive end, it struggled with the pace of Merrimack at times in the defensive zone. Despite that, the Badgers found a way to victory once again.
Continuing a crazy trend of early goals, junior Jason Ford put the Badgers up 1-0 with a goal just 1:38 in to the first period. However, Merrimack answered back, with a controversial goal at the 7:12 mark of the second period.
It had Hayton so fired up he chased the ref down the ice over the call of the puck going over the line.
“I’m a competitive guy and I don’t like giving up goals, especially ones that don’t go in,” Hayton said after the game.
“You can be upset about it for a little bit, but as soon as that puck drops you’ve gotta get back to the game. Still had half the game left at that point. Had to stay focused and keep pushing on.”
That’s exactly what Hayton did, and Merrimack never put one across the line on him again in this game.
Hayton’s teammates picked him up in a big way as well, netting three goals in the course of just 39 seconds in the second period.
First it was junior Seamus Malone, who lit the lamp at the 12:01 mark of the second period to make it 2-1 on a power play goal at the back door. Malone streaked down the ice and took an easy pass from Will Johnson for the go-ahead goal.
UW gave itself plenty of insurance in just a few seconds, as Max Zimmer put home another goal just 14 seconds later. He redirected a Peter Tischke shot past Merrimack netminder Drew Vogler.
It was nearly deja vu for goal No. 4 for the Badgers, as this time it was senior Ryan Wagner tipping home a shot from Tischke just 39 seconds after Malone had initially lit the lamp.
That was all the offensive fire-power the Badgers would need, as the defense did well to withstand 16 shots in each of the last two periods of the game alone.
Wisconsin’s defense came away with a 16-5 advantage in blocked shots and held the Warriors to an 0-for-4 night on the Power Play.
“They’re a talented group of guys,” Hayton said of the defense. “I think we’ve got four lines that can play every night, four lines that can score which not many teams have. Defense is looking great, they had a great weekend blocking shots, diving and making plays. I think everyone is looking good and there’s only room for improvement.”
The road work continues for the Badgers next weekend, but much closer to home. UW will travel to Green Bay for a weekend series hosted by Northern Michigan. The games are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21. Friday’s game begins at 7 p.m., while Saturday starts at 5 p.m.