The Wisconsin Badgers faced the Lakehead Thunderwolves in an exhibition game Sunday afternoon. The game provided a first look at the rebuilding Badger lineup. Despite the Badgers seemingly controlling play throughout much of the game, Wisconsin fell late in overtime, 3-2.
The first period started poorly for the Badgers as a misplay by starting goalie Jared Moe gave the puck to Geoff Dempster of Lakehead in front of the Wisconsin goal. Dempster did not miss his opportunity and put the Thunderwolves ahead 1-0 2:20 into the period.
Following the Lakehead goal, Wisconsin turned up the pressure and started to control the pace of play. Lakehead penalties with 12:41 and 7:08 remaining in the first period provided the Badgers with increased momentum despite failing to score on either power play.
After maintaining an edge throughout the period, the Badgers found the back of the net with 2:07 remaining in the period. Cruz Lucius deflected a shot in front of the net drawing the Badgers level with the Thunderwolves. Assists on Lucius’ goal were given to Tyson Jugnauth and Mike Vorlicky.
The first period ended with the Badgers and Thunderwolves even at 1-1. Wisconsin, however, held a commanding lead in shots on goal leading 18-6.
The second period began as the first had ended with the Badgers once again controlling the pace of play. Another Lakehead penalty with 14:59 remaining gave the Badger power play another appearance. The Badgers once again were unable to convert.
Halfway through the second period, Wisconsin changed goalie Jared Moe for Kyle McClellan, a transfer from Mercyhurst.
McClellan faced his first challenge soon after his entrance as Jack Gorniak was assessed a minor penalty with 8:30 remaining in the second period. The substitute goalie was up to the task, however, and kept the score even.
Both Wisconsin and Lakehead finished the second period with five shots on goal, bringing the game totals to 23-11 in favor of the Badgers.
Wisconsin was given an opportunity to start the third period with a numbers advantage, as Joe Mack was called for tripping 21 seconds into the period. The Badgers, once again, could not convert on the power play opportunity.
Lakehead did not miss the same opportunities as the Badgers. Following an interference call against Ty Smilanic, the Thunderwolves scored a power-play goal with 10:54 remaining on the clock.
Wisconsin’s offense continued trying to get past goalie Max Wright without success. With 3:23 remaining on the clock, Lakehead held a 2-1 lead and called a timeout to regroup defensively. However, this timeout worked in the Badgers’ favor as Carson Bantle scored with 2:11 remaining. Corson Ceulemans and Brock Caufield assisted the play.
After Bantle’s late equalizer, the Badgers and Thunderwolves entered overtime with the score 2-2. The Badgers nearly ended the game as Carson Bantle hit the post, but the puck did not cross the goal line. Adding insult to injury, Bantle was assessed a two minute minor penalty for high sticking with 1:04 remaining in the extra period.
Lakehead converted on their powerplay opportunity, ending the game with 31 seconds remaining in overtime.
Wisconsin appeared to be the better team throughout the game, but their offense failed to convert on their chances to score. Nearing closer to Big Ten play, this exhibition experience has shown where the Badgers need to improve.
Wisconsin travels to Columbus next weekend to face Ohio State on Friday and Saturday to begin the Big Ten season.