Powerplay integral in UW's 4-2 win over St. Lawrence

Seamus Malone helped the Badgers earn a win on Saturday after a lackluster loss on Friday.

Image By: Jon Yoon

Simply put, the Badgers dominated St. Lawrence in the opening game of their weekend series. Ultimately, Wisconsin outshot the SLU 42-19 — which is an impressive margin — but, more shockingly, UW recorded 84 shot attempts to the Saints’ 40.

With those numbers, it would seem safe to assume that Wisconsin would have won comfortably. The Badgers, however, could not convert on several grade-A chances, and the game, therefore, remained close until the end. Fortunately for Wisconsin, despite struggling to score, its powerplay was dominant and the main factor that helped UW (1-1 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) capture a 4-2 victory over the Saints (0-7).

“I thought we moved the puck really well on the powerplay,” head coach Tony Granato said. “It’s the difference in the game. Two powerplay goals, two goal win.”

Wisconsin has looked strong on the powerplay this season but hasn’t been able to convert at the rate that it would like. Before this evening, the Badgers were tied for No. 27 in the nation in power play percentage converting at 18.5 percent (five-for-27). Tonight, however, UW buried two of its five chances.

The first powerplay goal, which broke a 1-1 tie, came on a four-on-three. Granato decided to play three forwards and one defenseman on that unit, including sophomore forward Trent Frederic, junior forward Will Johnson, senior forward Cameron Hughes and freshman defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk.

“Every four on three situation we will have three forwards and a D,” Granato said. “It will probably be those four a lot.”

Originally, Kalynuk was credited with the goal that unit scored, which would have been the first of his career, but post-game the goal was given to Frederic. Still, even though he didn’t end up scoring his first goal, Kalynuk was a huge component of the Badgers’ powerplay today and has been throughout the whole season.

“Kalynuk has done a heck of a job on controlling the blue line. He finds passing lanes and he’s very mobile back at the top and he can get his shot through,” Granato said. “I think he is going to be a very good powerplay defenseman. He’s going to big a big part of our powerplay as the year goes on. Wyatt’s a freshman running the one powerplay.”

After the Badgers grabbed the 2-1 lead on the four-on-three, the Saints tied up the game shortly after. Once again, though, the Badgers broke through on the powerplay — this time with Seamus Malone making a really smart play to bank the puck off the back of the goalie from behind the goal line. That lead persisted through the rest of the contest.

“It was really smart,” senior forward Ryan Wagner said. “Most players will try to corral the puck and kind of see their other options but Sea saw the goalie was out of position and did what he needed to do and it worked out for him.”

Wisconsin has worked a lot on a its  powerplay over the past few weeks, knowing that a game like this could come down to how well it convert up a man.

“I think we have been working a lot on it,” Johnson said. “Coach Strobel has been putting us through the bases. We did powerplay every practice this week. We’ve been really focused on getting shots off and attacking the net, entering the zone well, and I think it will pay off for us in the long run.”

Granato said that he was happy with Wisconsin’s effort tonight, and that the team played a solid, complete game. Still, he did highlight how much the Badger powerplay has improved and how integral that was in the Badgers’ win tonight.

“The net front presence is always the thing you have to establish on the powerplay and I think [we did that] tonight,” Granato said. “I think our power play unit is getting a little more rhythm, they’re getting a little more confidence in each other. I think they’re getting a little more continuity across the group. They have moved the puck well the last few games.”

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