After sweeping Notre Dame their season opener, No. 14 Wisconsin (2-1) was unable to keep the momentum alive and fell to No. 6 Michigan (3-0) 5-2 in the first game of their home opener series.
The Badgers have traded a packed Kohl Center for an empty LaBahn Arena as their home for the foreseeable future as a result of COVID-19 budget cuts. But the change in scenery created a more intimate game experience for the players that kept the game at a fast pace for all three periods.
Wisconsin senior and future Chicago Blackhawk Josh Ess started things off for the Badgers with his first goal of the season, assisted by senior Ty Pelton-Byce. The first period would end 1-0 for the Badgers.
This lead, however, would quickly slip away near the end of the second period.
In the span of about five minutes, the Wolverines would manage to put up three goals — Michigan senior Michael Pastujov found the net after fighting over the puck with Wisconsin goalie Robbie Beydoun, freshman Brendan Brisson scored during a power play and sophomore Eric Ciccolini finished things off with just three seconds left in the period.
The second period would end with Michigan leading 3-1.
While Wisconsin Assistant Head Coach Mark Strobel was frustrated in his team giving up a goal in the final three seconds of the period, he was overalled pleased with the way his team was playing.
“Goals come in waves like that, I think their power play goal sparked a movement,” Strobel said. “But up until then, we were playing a very good period — physical, keeping it at three or above, doing what we need to do.”
The Badgers did manage to bring back a glimmer of hope early in the third period with a power play goal by senior and future Buffalo Sabre Linus Weissbach, assisted by Cole Caufield.
They were unable to build off this momentum, however, and allowed two more goals to be scored against them. Michigan sophomore Johnny Beecher answered with a shot to the top corner of Beydoun’s net. In the final minute of the game, Pastujov scored his second of the night on an empty Wisconsin net, scoring the fifth and final goal for Michigan in a 5-2 Wolverine victory.
Wisconsin’s offense did put up a good fight overall against the Wolverines and their 2020 Big Ten Goaltender of the Year, Strauss Mann. The Badgers shot 28 times versus Michigan’s 34 shots, they just weren’t able to capitalize on their power play opportunities.
Caufield has also yet to make the impact on the ice when the Badgers need him. While the future Montreal Canadien and 2020 Big Ten Freshman and Scoring Champion of the Year led Wisconsin in shots on goal tonight, he has yet to find the back of the net.
The Badgers will face off again with the Wolverines tomorrow night, with a puck drop at 6 p.m. CT.