Men's Hockey

Dhooghe's last-second goal keeps Wisconsin's hopes of home-ice alive

The Badgers came out on top of a 4-3 overtime thriller on senior night against Michigan

The Badgers came out on top of a 4-3 overtime thriller on senior night against Michigan

Image By: Daniel Klugman

When senior center Seamus Malone went off for a hooking with two minutes and 28 seconds left in overtime, Wisconsin’s chances of making it to the end of the period looked slim.

Their chances of securing a goal in that span to keep their hopes at home ice in the Big Ten Tournament alive looked even slimmer.

But the Badgers stepped up under pressure, and as the last remaining seconds expired on Michigan’s power play, sophomore defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk found sophomore forward Sean Dhooghe on a stretch pass. Dhooghe wasn’t the first Badger to get in alone against Wolverine goaltender Strauss Mann, but he made sure he was the last.

“When we got that penalty we said we were gonna try to be really aggressive, we were gonna try to score shorthanded,” head coach Tony Granato said. “To be able to make a play like that, it seems like a lot of bounces haven’t gone our way this season and we just needed a chance.”

Dhooghe’s overtime game-winner capped a wild, back-and-forth 5-4 victory for Wisconsin (7-10-5 Big Ten, 11-16-5 overall) on Friday night against Michigan (9-9-5, 13-13-7) that featured four ties and five lead changes.

The high-flying affair got its first scoring from one of the unlikeliest sources, as sophomore defenseman Josh Ess took a pass from Malone and took a shot that bounced off Mann’s shoulder and into the net. It was the third goal in less than 60 minutes of play for Ess, who had scored just three in his first 65 career games as a Badger before last Saturday.

If Ess’ goal was strange, the Michigan equalizer that followed was truly random. Senior defenseman Peter Tischke, normally the Badgers defensive stalwart, lost an edge recovering the puck behind his own net, setting up an easy scoring opportunity that Michigan’s Luke Morgan converted.

Chaos broke out early in the second period, as the Badgers took a lead on a highlight-reel goal from senior forward Matthew Freytag. 

Before the celebrations had died down, Michigan struck back with a goal just 17 seconds later to tie the score. Making it worse, freshman forward Dominck Mersch was called for a slash trying to break up the play, and Wisconsin was forced to go on the penalty kill. 

The Wolverines converted, and just 56 seconds after Freytag had energized the building, the Badgers found themselves trailing.

It marked the ninth time Wisconsin had allowed two goals within a minute of each other this season, but this time the Badgers had an answer.

“We’ve had some momentum swings where we’ve gotten down on the bench, they’ve gone bad for us but we kept the energy up and powered through that,” Malone said. “We got two unlucky bounces but we were able to come back and we competed hard.”

Wisconsin’s comeback started thanks to some undisciplined play from Michigan, as the Wolverines took a pair of penalties within 45 seconds to give the Badgers an extended five-on-three penalty midway through the second period. Eventually it was Dhooghe who capitalized, slamming home a deflected Malone centering pass meant for sophomore forward Linus Weissbach on the two-man-advantage.

Roman Ahcan had no such advantage on his goal to put the Badgers ahead. The freshman forward created a turnover in the neutral zone and went one-on-four against the Michigan defense. A nice piece of stickhandling to open a shooting lane and a poor piece of goaltending by Mann later, and Ahcan had given Wisconsin the lead yet again with a five-hole strike.

Ahcan’s goal, and the Badgers’ comeback, capped a third period with wild end-to-end play and rising tension and excitement in the stands — and on the bench.

“That was a great college hockey game,” Granato said. “I had fun on the bench, I know that.”

But fun wasn’t what Wisconsin entered the night looking for, and after Michigan forward Jimmy Lambert evened the game three minutes into the third period, the three points the Badgers needed to keep their home-ice hopes alive were seriously in question.

Wisconsin dominated the final 17 minutes of regulation, but its odds of victory looked slimmer with each would-be scoring opportunity squandered.

Until Dhooghe took Kalynuk’s outlet pass, that is.

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