Men's Hockey: Badgers grab first win of the season

It took a while longer than expected, but Joel Rumpel finally took home his 50th career win.

Image By: Emily Buck

The Wisconsin men’s hockey program and its fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

The Badgers (1-8-1 overall) recorded their first win of the season on Saturday against Ferris State (4-4-0 WCHA, 7-7-1 overall) after tying the Bulldogs the night before.

Following Friday’s game, a 1-1 tie that UW technically won in a shootout, head coach Mike Eaves held his players back and told them it was “time to figure it out.” The Badgers responded with a hard-fought 5-3 win the next night.

“It’s a great relief,” said Eaves after Saturday’s win. “[If we] work hard in practice and get a level of confidence there, we need to do things in a game and win a game. That’s what’s really concrete and makes the cement harden. So now we bring that confidence into next week’s practice, and hopefully we can continue to build on that.”

It was a weekend of important milestones for Wisconsin. On top of winning its first game of the season, becoming the last team in college hockey to do so, its starting goaltender, senior Joel Rumpel, earned his 50th-career win on Saturday.

“He’s given us a lot of chances and kept us in games,” senior forward Matt Paape said of Rumpel. “That’s what he’s done for his four years here. You know what you’re going to get with him. He’s an outstanding goalie, and that’s what we need out of him.”

The Badgers went down by a goal early when Bulldog freshman forward Chad McDonald put one past Rumpel less than four minutes into the first period. However, it didn’t take long for Wisconsin to fight back. Sophomore forward Grant Besse notched his second goal of the season to tie the game heading into the first intermission.

When the Bulldogs scored again in the second period to take a 2-1 lead, the Badgers responded again. Redshirt freshman forward Corbin McGuire scored his first career goal to tie it up again. The Badgers took the lead on a tally from Paape, who scored his first goal since January of 2012.

“I heard right as I walked down here that it’s been 77 games, but … it sure feels a lot longer than that,” Paape joked.

Ferris State almost dashed Wisconsin’s hopes again when it scored two minutes into the third period, but freshman defenseman Jack Dougherty gave UW the lead once more with his first career goal. The Badgers held on to win, sealing their victory with an empty-netter from Besse.

“I think it was just a matter of looking inside ourselves and figuring out whether we want to compete for a national championship, or if we are satisfied with losing games,” Dougherty said. “I guess we got the right answer tonight.”

Friday’s game, arguably the catalyst for Saturday’s win, saw a goaltending battle in which Rumpel made 34 saves in regulation and overtime in addition to stopping all of the Bulldogs’ shootout attempts.

The first two periods went by without a goal from either team. UW struck first with a power play goal from freshman forward Matt Ustaski. The Bulldogs responded five minutes later with a goal of their own. They wouldn’t score again, however: The Badgers won a practice shootout with a goal from redshirt sophomore Morgan Zulinick.

“We care about our team getting better,” Eaves said on Friday. “In the things that we’ve been going through, that is a little sliver of light for us.”

Wisconsin will begin conference play next weekend against Penn State at the Kohl Center, looking to restart their season in conference play.

UWBadgers.com contributed to this report.

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