WISCONSIN EARNS WEEKEND SPLIT WITH 5-2 WIN AGAINST DENVER
Sophomore forward Michael Mersch registers goal and two assists for Badgers
MADISON, Wis. -- All it took Saturday night for the Badgers was one goal-one goal to lift the weight off their shoulders, put a little confidence back in their stride and kick start a 5-2 upset victory over No. 10 Denver at a sold out Kohl Center.
That first goal came for the Badgers (13-15-2, 8-14-2 WCHA) 6:39 into the second period. Down 1-0 following a Denver (18-10-4, 13-7-4 WCHA) goal five minutes earlier, sophomore Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) took the puck behind the net and passed it out to freshman Matt Paape (Appleton, Wis.).
Paape passed it back in to Zengerle who took the shot and scored. Sophomore Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) also assisted on the play.
"We were playing well and we just had to keep going and just needed to get one," Zengerle said. "Once we got one the floodgates opened and we played really well."
The Badgers took their first lead of the series less than four minutes later, this time courtesy of a goal from freshman Brendan Woods (Fairfax, Va.). Zengerle again took the puck behind the net and fed a a centering pass to Woods, who knocked the puck off the post and into the net. Sophomore Joe Faust (Bloomington, Minn.) collected an assist on the play.
With the assist, Zengerle became just the fourth skater in team history to record at least 30 assists in each of his first two seasons. The other three skaters were Chris Chelios, Mark Johnson and Theran Welsh.
Wisconsin wasted little time coming out of the second intermission. Just 1:11 into the third period, sophomore Keegan Meuer (Madison, Wis.) scored what would be the eventual game winner to put the Badgers up, 3-1. Sophomore Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Min.) took a shot after getting the puck in the high slot from a DU turnover. Meuer found the rebound along the goal line and squeaked it by DU goaltender Sam Brittain for his seventh goal this season.
Barnes finished the night plus-3.
Only 21 seconds later however, Denver tightened the game, scoring on a goal from Drew Shore to make it a 3-2 game.
This was a game the Badgers were not going to give away however and with 8:18 left in the contest, Mersch scored his 11th goal of the season off a tip on a shot from junior Justin Schultz (West Kelowna, B.C.).
With 4:28 and on a power play, Schultz scored the dagger with a signature wrist shot from the point to push the Wisconsin lead to 5-2. Schultz' 13th goal, which leads the nation's defensemen, came with help from Mersch, who picked up his third point on the night. Freshman Jake McCabe (Eau Claire, Wis.) also assisted on the play.
"No matter where we end up in the standings, this is the type of game we are going to need when we go into the playoffs," head coach Mike Eaves said. "This is a playoff-ready type of game. And that's the mentality we need to have as we go down these next four games."
Freshman Landon Peterson (Oregon, Wis.) won his fourth game of the season with 22 saves.
The Badgers out-shot the Pioneers 35-24, their fourth straight game out-shooting their opponent.
For the second-straight evening, the Badgers held the WCHA's top power-play squad without a goal, as well. Denver went 0-for-3, while Wisconsin went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.
Schultz said the sellout crowd was a big factor into the team's performance Saturday night.
"Yeah, definitely," Schultz said. "That was one of the things we talked about in the dressing room is getting these fans a goal and getting them going because they were hungry for one. Once that happened, we kind of fed off it and you could tell in the third period the boys were all fired up on the bench."
Saturday was also senior night for the Badgers. The team's lone senior Eric Springer (Wrightstown, Wis.) was welcomed by a standing ovation from the sellout Kohl Center crowd prior to the game. Springer finished the evening plus-1.
Though their regular season home schedule has now concluded, the Badgers still face two road series before the season ends, beginning with Bemidji State next weekend.
- With an assist Saturday night, Mark Zengerle became just the fourth player in school history to record 30 assists in each of his first two seasons. The other three are Chelios, Johnson and Welsh
- The Badgers scored at least five goals in a game for the seventh time this season
- Wisconsin took down a top-10 team for the fourth time this season Saturday night
- UW out-shot their opponent for the fourth-straight game Saturday night
- Saturday night's sellout was the 41st for Wisconsin in the Kohl Center's history
- The Badgers snapped a 5-game losing streak with the win over Denver
- UW's lone senior Eric Springer was honored before the game Saturday night