The Wisconsin Badgers shut out the Augustana University Vikings 4-0 on Saturday and 3-0 on Sunday at the Kohl Center to start off their season with two wins.
Augustana failed to get the puck past Badgers goaltender Kyle McClellan, who stopped a collective 43 shots between the two games. McClellan also became the first Badger goaltender to post back-to-back shutouts on the same weekend against the same team.
On the offensive side, the Badgers totaled seven goals in the two games. Quinn Finley scored two in game one and assisted a goal in game two. Owen Lindmark contributed to all three goals in game two, scoring two — one on the empty net — and assisting one.
Finley, a freshman, impressed both fans and his coaches with a strong start to the season and career with the team. Locals may recognize Finley as he spent about half a season with the Madison Capitols last year.
Two freshmen — Joe Palodichuk and William Whitelaw — put up an impressive two assists each in game one.
Badgers head coach Mike Hastings, who earned his 300th career win after game one, spoke about the synergy that some of the freshmen and transfers have in a press conference following the series.
“One thing I like is they care about each other, so far,” Hastings said. “What I mean by that is seeing other guys being excited about success in a teammate and being okay sharing that. That, I think, is an example that hopefully we’ll continue to reinforce.”
Hastings also complimented the “guys wearing the badge” — alternate captains Mathieu De St. Phalle and David Silye and captain Mike Vorlicky — for stepping up and taking care of the greater good and positively impacting the game.
These two games were the first games in Augustana hockey’s program history. Although they walked away winless and scoreless, head coach Garrett Raboin has clearly laid a strong foundation for the team to build on, meaning they should be a team to look out for in the future.
“Two years ago there was nothing, and today, we played the Wisconsin Badgers,” Raboin said in a press conference following game one.
A strong series for the Badgers shows room for improvement
The scoreline looked good for the Badgers, but elements of their game showed desperate need for improvement. The Badgers were called for seven penalties in game one and five in game two.
In game one, several Badger penalties cut their power play short and even gave Augustana a short 5-on-3 at one point. The team picked up the slack, however, and the penalty killers worked to kill 11 Augustana power plays between the two games.
On the other end of the penalty, however, the Badger’s power play performance was poor. They failed to convert on 11 power plays between the two games.
Game two’s performance was particularly disappointing as the Badgers saw nearly 13 minutes on the power play thanks to Augustana's Jack Jensen receiving a five minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head. Despite that, the Badgers only put nine shots on Augustana’s net on the power play in game two.
It could be a result of some early nervousness and maybe gripping their sticks a little too tight — with countless turnovers, offside calls, swings and misses happening particularly on the power play — or a different issue, but there is no doubt this is something Hastings will try to address in practice.
As the Badgers look forward to a six-game away trip starting at Bemidji State on Oct. 13, Hastings hopes that these two wins at home will keep morale high.
“I want them to feel good walking out of this building because this is our house, we took care of our house. Those are positives," Hastings said at a press conference after the series.
The Badgers will return to the Kohl Center on Nov. 3 for a two-game series against last season’s Big Ten tournament winner, the University of Michigan Wolverines.
Ian Wilder is a current features writer and former state politics reporter for The Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @IanWWilder.