Wisconsin flat in opener, only manages split against weak Mercyhurst

Trent Frederic has not been as dominant as predicted so far this season. 

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Another weekend, another underwhelming result.

After seemingly building some momentum against Michigan, No. 14 Wisconsin (3-2-1-0 Big Ten, 9-6-2-0 overall) split a weekend series against a weak Mercyhurst (2-2-2-0 Atlantic Hockey, 5-5-2-0) opponent that an aspiring tournament and championship team should likely sweep.

"I don't think there were any surprises. We knew what Mercyhurst would throw at us. I don't think enough guys played well. That's pretty much how you can explain that one,” head coach Tony Granato said after the loss to UWBadgers.com. “Mercyhurst deserved a road win because they had big players make big plays and not enough of our big players played well enough.”

Accordingly, after the loss, the Badgers had to make some pretty big changes — changes that they haven’t often made so far this year. For example, Wisconsin split up sophomore forward Trent Frederic and senior forward Ryan Wagner, who had played on a line together every other game this season. Granato also played sophomore goalie Jack Berry, who had only started two games prior to Sunday.

About the only thing that didn’t change was keeping the line of junior Will Johnson, junior Seamus Malone and senior Cameron Hughes together. That line found success and scored the whole weekend.

“They generated a lot for us. They had good jump throughout the series. They supported each other very well without the puck. They were smart with their puck decisions. When the play was there to be made, they made it, and when it wasn't, they played smart,” Granato told UWBadgers.com. “They were huge in the win tonight for sure."

Although winning game two provides some consolation, the Badgers have moved from a potential national champion to a fringe tournament team, with many asking if this team is actually good. The Badgers can’t afford too many more flat games, especially with the meat of the Big Ten schedule around the corner.

Wisconsin travels to Minneapolis to face No. 7 Minnesota this weekend.

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