Wisconsin men’s hockey teams fails in bid to sweep Notre Dame

February 17, 2019 GMT

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The positive that emerged for the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team Saturday night was that it no longer has to see Michael Graham this regular season.

Graham, a Notre Dame freshman, continued to torch the Badgers, scoring twice against them for the third time in four meetings, as the 15th-ranked Fighting Irish earned a series split.

A three-goal second period by Notre Dame fueled a 5-2 victory over the Badgers at Compton Family Ice Arena, keeping UW in last place in the Big Ten Conference with four games to play.

UW allowed three power-play goals and couldn’t follow up on Friday’s 2-1 victory when presented with an opportunity to earn its first league road sweep in more than two years.

Graham had one goal in 20 games before the Irish played the Badgers for the first time this season last month. He has scored 10 in nine games since, with six of them coming against UW.

“He scores big goals for them, that’s for sure,” UW coach Tony Granato said.

The Badgers gave up the three Notre Dame power-play goals and didn’t score on any of their three chances, accounting for the difference in the game.

They took four straight penalties in the first period, disturbing their momentum after Matthew Freytag scored 2:25 into the game to cap a fast start and put UW ahead.

Colin Theisen’s power-play goal midway through the first period tied things, and Graham put the Irish ahead for good with another man-advantage strike early in the second.

Graham’s goal, a redirection of an Andrew Peeke shot that got past UW starting goalie Daniel Lebedeff, came with Freytag serving a too-many-men penalty. Freytag was ruled to have played the puck before the player he hopped over the boards to replace was off the ice.

“That’s a tough break,” Freytag said. “I saw the puck right there so I thought we had a quick 2-on-1; I thought the guys were off. ... It’s unfortunate that they capitalized on our mistake.”

Cal Burke also scored on the power play in the third period. UW conceded multiple power-play goals for the 10th time in 30 games this season.

“We’ve seen ourselves struggle with penalties in the past, and we got away from our game there,” right wing Sean Dhooghe said. “Whether calls go our way or not or what we think of them, at the end of the day we’ve got to stay out of the box.”

The Badgers (10-15-5, 6-9-5-2 Big Ten) had their defensive depth stretched to the max, with K’Andre Miller and Tyler Inamoto out with injuries. Miller is out for at least two to three weeks with a left leg injury, while Inamoto likely will return next week at Penn State after suffering a hip injury Friday.

Jake Bunz and Jesper Peltonen replaced the defensive regulars and held their own, Granato said. But the Badgers grew tired from shortening the bench all weekend and from the volume of power plays they had to face Saturday.

And Lebedeff didn’t make the spectacular saves that he did to deliver Friday’s victory. The freshman allowed four goals on 22 shots before being replaced by Jack Berry (eight saves) to start the third period.

“I don’t want him wearing down,” Granato said of Lebedeff. “He played last night and he had a ton of energy spent. He was mad after the period, and I didn’t want him in the net for the third.”

The second period was decisive as Notre Dame (16-11-3, 9-9-2-2) got a pair of goals from Graham and one by Jake Pivonka to go ahead 4-1.

After Graham made it 2-1 less than three minutes into the frame, the Irish gained some separation in the final eight minutes. They beat the Badgers up ice in transition after winning a defensive-zone faceoff, and Pivonka finished off a pass from Burke.

Graham netted his second of the game when he banked a shot in off the left post with 1:23 remaining.

Burke recorded his third point of the game in the third period to make it 5-1 before Dhooghe scored his first goal in 12 games — and his team-leading 10th of the season — as consolation for the Badgers.

UW hasn’t swept a Big Ten road series since Feb. 3-4, 2017, at Michigan State.

“When we show up and every single guy in that locker room plays Badger hockey, an honest game, we’ve seen success. And (Friday) night, I can say we did that,” Dhooghe said. “The coaches have given us all the tools but it’s a matter of whether we’re going to use it. And tonight we didn’t execute, we didn’t play our game, we didn’t play hard and it reflected in the score.”

Wisconsin 1 0 1 — 2

Notre Dame 1 3 1 — 5

First period: W — Freytag 3 (Zimmer), 2:25. N — Theisen 8 (Cal Burke, Hellickson), 9:28 (pp). Penalties: Mersch, W, 8:52; Ahcan, W, 12:16; Messner, W, 15:00; Ahcan, W, 16:15; Theisen, N, 17:19.

Second period: N — Graham 10 (Peeke, Nardella), 2:33 (pp); Pivonka 2 (Cal Burke, Nardella), 12:04; Graham 11 (O’Leary, Dello), 18:37. Penalties: Bench, W, 1:29; Nardella, N, 6:37; S. Dhooghe, W, 6:37; Graham, N, 8:46; Cam Burke, N, 15:08.

Third period: N — Cal Burke 10 (Morrison, Peeke), 15:06 (pp). W — S. Dhooghe 10 (Bunz, Berry), 15:49. Penalties: Slaggert, N, 7:25; Mersch, W, 7:25; Baker, W, 13:41.

Saves: W (Lebedeff 12-6-x, Berry x-x-8) 26; N (St. Cyr 13-11-8) 32. Power plays: W 0-for-3; N 3-for-6. Att. — 5,331.