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Friday, February 23, 2024
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Badgers split series against Alaska Anchorage as struggles continue

After a historic start to the season, the Badgers have played a shaky few games — including a loss — in the series against an inferior Alaska Anchorage team.

The No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team split a two-game series Friday and Saturday against the unranked Alaska Anchorage Seawolves

The Badgers started the season 9-1-0 but are now 1-3-0 in the last four games after this series. Wisconsin came into the game after losing two to Michigan State University the weekend prior and extended the streak to three after falling 0-1 Friday. They returned with a resounding 5-0 victory Saturday to snap the streak.

The only goal in game one came at the hands of Seawolves’ Gunnar VanDamme in the second period. But that isn’t to say the Badgers didn’t have their chances. 

Wisconsin put 41 shots on the goal of Jared Whale, but the only shot that found its way in the net — late in the third period — was challenged by the Seawolves and later called back for goaltender interference. 

After Friday’s game, the Badgers had failed to convert on 15 power plays in their last three games, six of which came Friday.

Compared to game one, Wisconsin turned game two around on its head. Freshman goaltender William Gramme got his first NCAA start, and it’s hard to imagine a better start for a netminder. Gramme saved all 25 shots to post a shutout and made some miraculous saves to start his NCAA career off with a bang.

“It was a dream come true; I had some tears in my eyes before I went out. It was just so fun, and I'm so happy,” Gramme said after the game.

Offensively, the Badgers looked like themselves again. They scored one power play goal on five opportunities and had 12 shots in 8:42 power play minutes, three more shots than they managed in game one with 10:00 power play minutes. 

William Whitelaw found the net twice and Jack Horbach and Charlie Stramel each scored their first goals this season for the Badgers. David Silye posted a multipoint game, assisting both goals in the first period. 

Overall, the 5-0 victory in game two showed this team is capable of having a short memory. They washed away the less-than-ideal result the night before and came back to look like the team that was 9-1.

The Alaska Anchorage series is part of a six-game homestand, the next two next two games of which are Dec. 1-2 against the Ohio State Buckeyes. 

The Buckeyes recently retook the all-time series lead 26-24-5 after winning seven of the last 10 matchups, so the Badgers will undoubtedly look to regain the lead this season against one of their Big Ten rivals. The series puck drop is 7 p.m. Friday. 

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Ian Wilder

Ian Wilder is a senior staff writer and current men’s hockey beat reporter for The Daily Cardinal. He’s a former state politics and features reporter. Follow him on Twitter at @IanWWilder.

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