Badgers get road sweep in first away series this season

Freshman Tarek Baker did not score tonight, but played a big role on UW's best line in its 3-2 loss to North Dakota.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Defending a top-10 ranking for the first time since the beginning of the 2014 season, the No. 10 Wisconsin men’s hockey team (1-1-0 Big Ten, 4-1-0 overall) took to the road for the first time in 2017 and rode a strong goaltending performance to a pair of victories over no. 13 Boston College and Merrimack.

The Badgers jumped out to an early lead against the Eagles (0-0-0 Hockey East, 0-1-1 overall), as sophomore forward Trent Frederic opened the scoring with just over two minutes remaining in the first period. The Eagles would tie it up only a minute later on a power play goal from Graham McPhee, and the two teams entered the first intermission with a level score.

The Badgers came out of the locker room with energy and got a goal from redshirt senior defenseman Tim Davison just 73 seconds into the second frame. Wisconsin only piled on from there, as a pair of goals from junior forwards Seamus Malone and Matthew Freytag built the advantage into a commanding 4-1 advantage. Boston College cut the lead by a goal with nine minutes remaining, but the Badgers held strong defensively and added an empty-net goal by freshman Tarek Baker to complete the 5-2 final score.

Senior goaltender Kyle Hayton made 19 consecutive saves in the stretch between BC’s first and second goals, where the Badgers built their advantage, as part of a 29-save effort on the night.

"I think Kyle [Hayton] played great,” head coach Tony Granato told “We did make some mistakes that you'd like to clean up, but Kyle was there to cover for us.”

Hayton was ready to cover for the Badgers’ skaters again the next night, as he made 41 saves to preserve a 4-1 victory over Merrimack (0-0-0 HEA, 0-2-1 overall) and complete the weekend sweep.

The Badgers took an early lead on a goal from senior forward Jason Ford that held for more than 25 minutes. Then a questionable call on a scramble in front of the net awarded Merrimack a tying goal despite the puck appearing not to have crossed the goal line.

The Badgers responded to the setback emphatically, scoring three goals in just 39 seconds to extend the lead and give Hayton some breathing room.

"The way that they did that was huge,” Hayton said. Not many teams would come in and score three goals in that span. They battled back right away, you could tell it lit a fire under their butt a little after that.”

With the win, the Badgers moved to 4-1-0, their best start since the 2004-’05 season. They now return to Wisconsin for a series in Green Bay against Northern Michigan, which beat the Badgers twice last season and hamstrung their NCAA tournament aspirations.

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