Wisconsin looks for first series sweep of season

Sean Dhooghe played first line last night with Trent Frederic and Ryan Wagner. That line will stay the same tonight.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

After Wisconsin's 7-3 win over Michigan Friday night, Ethan Levy brings you three keys prior to the second game of the series:

Difficulty putting together a full weekend

Wisconsin has struggled to put together a full weekend all season. Specifically, the Badgers have only come out of one weekend with two wins, and that was during their road trip out east where they faced two different opponents in Boston College and Merrimack. Every other weekend, where the Badgers have faced the same team twice, Wisconsin has at best come away with only one win. Last weekend, UW won 6-3 on opening night against Michigan State but fell 2-0 the following game. Tonight, Wisconsin will look to earn its first series sweep of the season.

Wisconsin's defense struggled against the stretch pass last night

The story of last night's game was Kyle Hayton. The graduate transfer goaltender was spectacular in the Badgers 7-3 win, keeping them in the game before the score broke open. He made big save after big save, facing a multitude of grade-A opportunities.

The big reason that Hayton had to make so many timely, difficult saves was because the Badgers' defense struggled against the stretch pass. Michigan would enter the zone and find open players on the opposite wing for open looks on net. Similarly, Michigan loved to stretch the puck from its defensive zone up the ice, which resulted in several breakaways for the Wolverines. 

If Wisconsin wants to earn another win tonight, it will have to be better at defending the stretch pass.

Team effort and freshman impact

All season, Wisconsin's success has been a result of a multitude of players contributing. Many thought this year would be the Trent Frederic show, or even the Cameron Hughes show, but UW has instead been getting contributions from its entire lineup, including regularly playing seven different freshman.

Last night, the Badgers had seven different goal scorers, including freshman Josh Ess and Tarek Baker and forth liners Max Zimmer and Jarod Zirbel. Wisconsin even played three freshman on the powerplay unit, with Sean Dhooghe, Linus Weissbach and Wyatt Kalynuk playing alongside sophomore Frederic and senior Ryan Wagner.

Additionally, rather than relying on senior Jake Linhart and junior Peter Tischke to play heavy special team minutes, all six UW defensemen, including three freshman, have spent significant time on special teams and lead the charge as a unit.  

In order for Wisconsin to win tonight, it will likely need a similar team effort with similar contributions from its freshmen.

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