MADISON, Wis. -- There were many people dressed up at the Kohl Center Saturday night for Halloween, but the best costume had to go to the Wisconsin men's hockey team.
The Badgers dressed as the victorious team, defeating Nebraska Omaha 6-3 for a weekend split.
Friday's contest against UNO began full force, with the Badgers tallying three goals in the first six minutes.
On Saturday night though, it took almost three minutes before Wisconsin even tallied its first shot. But once the Badgers (4-4-0, 3-3-0 WCHA) got going, they piled it on quick-taking a 3-0 lead in the first period for the second evening in a row.
The Badgers struck first, 7:52 into the period. With the Mavericks (4-4-0, 3-1-0 WHCA) on the power play, sophomore Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Minn.) took the puck at mid-ice on a 2-on-1 break. Closing in on goal, Barnes fed a pass over to sophomore Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) who tapped it in for the short-handed finish.
"I thought Mr. Zengerle and Mr. Barnes above and beyond scoring the short-handed goal did a very nice job of showing that they understood what the scheme was when they were killing penalties," head coach Mike Eaves said. "They were willing to block shots and I thought they really stepped up."
Just over six minutes later, the Badgers struck again. This time it was freshman Matt Paape (Appleton, Wis.) who tallied his first career goal. On the third shot attempt of the play, Paape's shot finally got through past UNO goaltender John Faulkner for the score. Sophomore Keegan Meuer (Madison, Wis.) and sophomore Frankie Simonelli (Benseville, Ill.) got the assists.
"We were working it down low sending it out to Keegan it kind of went off his skate and I was hanging out in the high slot there," Paape said. "As far as feelings it's just nice to get the first one off your back."
Just 25 seconds later, the Badgers were right back at it, this time with Zengerle's second goal of the night. The goal came by way of another tap-in for Zengerle after a pass from junior defenseman Justin Schultz (West Kelowna, British Columbia) on the rush.
Nebraska Omaha cut Wisconsin's lead to two though, scoring with just under three minutes left in the period to put the game at 3-1.
But with 15 seconds left in the first period and the Badgers on the power play, Simonelli knocked home a feed from the back door to put Wisconsin up 4-1. Zengerle and Schultz both assisted on the score.
The assist for Zengerle was his third point of the period.
The Badgers also drew blood early in the second when junior Ryan Little (Fond du Lac, Wis.) netted his second goal of the season at the 16:57 mark. Sophomore Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) made the play, driving hard around a Maverick defender and towards the goal. Simonelli also assisted on the play for his third point of the match.
The Mavericks made the contest interesting though in the third period, first scoring 3:50 into the final period and again with just over five minutes left.
But an empty-net goal for sophomore Jefferson Dahl (Eau Claire, Wis.) sealed the deal for Wisconsin, putting the Badgers up 6-3. The Wisconsin defense held for the final minute and a half, giving the Badgers the win.
"The mindset going into tonight's game was that we definitely wanted to jump out and have the same start as we did last night, which we did," Simonelli said. "We sharpened up our penalty kill a little bit and cracked down on the details and had more success tonight.
Freshman goalie Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) put together an impressive showing Saturday, tallying 37 saves for his third victory.
UNO out-shot the Badgers 42-24, including 17-6 in the third period.
A night after converting 4-of-6 power play opportunities, UNO went 2-5. Wisconsin went 1-for-4.
As for his team's .500 record through the first month, Eaves said he's pleased.
"If somebody would have said that before the first month started we would have taken it."
The Badgers are on the road next weekend, when they travel to St. Cloud State (3-4-1, 1-1-0 WCHA) for a pair of games Friday and Saturday evening at National Hockey Center. Both games air live on Charter Extra 87, with Friday's contest at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday's game beginning at 7 p.m.
- Zengerle and Simonelli both put together 3 point performances on the night. Zengerle's came all in the first period
- 10 different Badgers tallied at least 1 point
- Freshman Matt Paape scored his first goal as a Badger Saturday night