Penalties abound in physical UW-UNO series

first_imgAgonizing losses seem to come in bunches.With 20 seconds to go in the game, the Badgers were in need of a score after giving up an early lead. Wisconsin couldn’t create any offense to secure the win and faced a heartbreaking loss. Luckily for the men’s hockey team (4-4-0, 3-3-0 WCHA), they had another game to even things up with the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (4-4-0, 3-1-0 WCHA).On both Friday and Saturday night, Wisconsin took an early 3-1 lead over Nebraska-Omaha. While they were unable to protect such an advantage Friday night, losing 5-4, the Badgers held on Saturday night, winning 6-3.A total of 18 goals were scored in the entire series – of which only one goal was scored in the second period per game by the winning team – the amount of goals was minimal when compared to the multitude of penalties.In the two game series both teams combined for a total of 33 penalties. On Friday night alone there were 19 penalties, 15 of which came in the first period. For a comparison, Wisconsin only managed 22 shots on goal in that game.Friday night, six of the games nine goals were power play goals, four of which were in the favor of the Mavericks.Head coach Mike Eaves attributes the loss to UW’s poor penalty kill.“When you give up four power play goals yeah,” Eaves said. “We blocked some shots, we did some decent things, but the details in the end allowed them to score some goals that’s what we have to shore up.”“In college hockey, there’s a lot of special teams that comes into play. … [Friday night] we didn’t kill off enough penalties, and that resulted in a loss,” sophomore defensemen Frankie Simonelli said.Saturday night the special teams play swung in favor of the Badgers, as sophomore forward Mark Zengerle started the night off with a shorthanded goal 7:52 into the first.Simonelli netted the Badgers lone power play goal of the night with 15 seconds left in the first, putting UW on top of UNO 4-1 with two periods of play left to go.“We play with, ‘You go if you got the ice,’ and we got the ice,” Zengerle said. “It was going to be a one-on-one, and [Tyler Barnes] kind of jumped it. He did a great job selling the D-man and the goalie too there, and he put it right on my stick and I put it in the 6-foot frame or whatever it is.”Much like Eaves wanted, those little details were executed in a more consistent and stronger way Saturday night with Zengerle and Barnes leading by example.“We started doing rehearsals on who can do penalty kills for us,” Eaves said. “Mr. Zenegerle and Mr. Barnes – above and beyond scoring the short handed goal – they did a very nice job of showing that they understood what the scheme was when we’re killing penalties. They were willing to block shots, and I thought they really stepped up. They got some serious minutes added to their game because of that fact. That was a real pleasant surprise.”Youth is no excuseAt the beginning of the season, with all his Badger cubs in tow, Eaves would have been more than happy to end the first month at .500.Now that he’s seen what his team is capable of doing on the ice and the amount of goals they’ve scored – 28 goals in eight games – and multiple moments of tough play beyond their years, Eaves believes his team was capable of more than just an average month.“I think if somebody would have said that before the first month started, I think we would have taken it, especially considering the youth that we have, the untested goaltenders and all of that,” Eaves said. ” … We’re learning quickly. It’s nice to get some wins in all the things that we’ve been going through because it gives us good motivation to stay on course.”As for the players, they’re trying to shed the youthful image. Rather than using it as an excuse – which was one thing even Eaves cited during Friday’s postgame press conference – the players want to move beyond it.“We’re trying to get rid of that right away,” Zengerle said. “We don’t want the term ‘young’ to be an excuse for us. We want to grow and get as good as possible. We’re trying to swipe that label off us as we speak.”last_img read more