Defensive miscues for UW lead to unexpected lackluster loss

Ryan Wagner and the Badgers were unable to sweep Michigan State this weekend.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Call it a letdown, call it a hangover. Whatever its name, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team (1-1-0 Big Ten, 6-3-0 overall) experienced it Saturday night against St. Lawrence (0-0-0 ECAC, 1-7-0 overall) in a 6-3 loss that left players and coaches grasping for answers.

Less than 24 hours after finishing up one of its most dominating performances of the season, the Badgers learned just how little can carry over from one game to the next.

On Friday, the Badgers scored early and carried that momentum through the whole 60 minutes. On Saturday, they got down by a pair of goals after just eight minutes and spent the whole night attempting to get back into the game.

The goals came on a pair of defensive miscues, first when junior defenseman Peter Tischke attempted to pinch in towards the boards on a rush and left St. Lawrence’s Callum Cusinato wide open in the middle of the ice, and then on a turnover by senior captain Seamus Malone. Malone was caught watching the puck on the ensuing rush, which gave SLU’s Jacob Pritchard all the space he needed to split the Wisconsin defenders and put the puck in the back of the net.

Those types of defensive miscues are nothing new for the Badgers over the last few years (although they have been much improved this season), but that they were committed by two of the team’s most consistent defensive players was emblematic of the team’s lackluster performance.

“None of us had it tonight, we didn’t have a jump, none of us played a good game,” senior forward Ryan Wagner said. “If we want to be playing hockey in April these games can’t happen for us and we need to be better all-around.”

Sophomore goaltender Jack Berry struggled the entire night, surrendering four goals on just 11 shots before being pulled early in the third period. St. Lawrence produced its six goals on just 13 shots, a number indicative of the quality of the scoring chances allowed by the Wisconsin defense.

Head coach Tony Granato put the blame on all sides following the loss.

“It was a team issue in that we didn’t play well enough to deserve to win,” Granato said. “Looking up and down our lineup, the way we played last night you could give everyone a really good grade. Tonight you’d have trouble finding guys to say they were good enough to help their team win.”

Wagner was the lone possible bright spot in the loss, as he scored Wisconsin’s second and third goals to help it battle back during the middle of the game. But even that wasn’t enough, as the Saints scored on two of their next three shots to chase Berry and take a 5-3 lead that would prove the decider in the game.

“Wags was great around the net; he battled and made the plays and we just needed more of that,” Granato said. “St Lawrence did what they had to do to prevail and beat us in a lot of areas to deserve a win.”

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