Warning sirens sounded in Madison after Wisconsin (0-4-0, 0-2-0 Big Ten) suffered a series loss to No. 10 St. Cloud State (4-0-0, 0 -0-0), starting their season 0-4 for only the third time in 60 years.
The Badgers dug themselves a hole in the second period that they never came out of on Friday night, losing their home opener at the Kohl Center, 5-1.
Tensions began to mount early in the competition after UW rookie Jack Horbach was given a charging penalty at 1:31 into the first period. St. Cloud State’s Brady Ziemer didn’t like the offense, retaliating with a countercheck behind Horbach’s back. Several light shoves ensued – much to the delight of the 7,030 in attendance – before the duo were separated and introduced into their respective penalty boxes.
The Badgers would once again find themselves in penalty trouble as the period drew to a close. With 55.6 seconds left in the first, second Corson Ceulemans was called for a snag and sent into the box for two minutes. The defenseman did little to hide his frustration, tossing the puck down the ice and exchanging words with the referees, earning him an additional 10-minute misconduct penalty.
“It wasn’t a performance we expected from a player like him or any player,” Badgers coach Tony Granato said. said de Ceulemans, a 2021 Columbus Blue Jackets first-round pick. “He’s got to be better with a lot of other players.”
Wisconsin skated off the ice in high spirits after the scoreless first period in which they outscored St. Cloud State 12-7. Those positive feelings quickly dissipated from minutes to seconds.
With 16:04 left in the second period, SCSU’s Grant Cruikshank — who signed off from Wisconsin in 2017 — buried the game’s first goal to break the drought and put the Huskies ahead, 1-0. After teammate Micah Miller’s wraparound shot crossed the crease, Cruikshank handled the puck to the other side and ripped it over the shoulder of UW goaltender Jared Moe for his second goal of the season.
The Badgers let several golden chances slip through their hands in the minutes after the second, as forwards Carson Bantle, Liam Malmquist and Sam Stange were unable to catch multiple passes in the offensive zone. At 11:49 of the period, Wisconsin was given another timely opportunity in the form of a power play following the interference penalty from SCSU’s Jami Krannila.
Despite the one-man advantage, Wisconsin looked outmatched by the Huskies, who capitalized on UW’s lack of effort by scoring a shorthanded goal with 6:49 left in the second.
As Stange lethargic approached the puck in the defensive zone, Cruikshank passed the UW junior and fed SCSU’s Grant Ahcan into the slot for the easy score. Although St. Cloud State would fail to convert on a two-for-zero break less than a minute later, Cooper Wylie scored a shot from the point at 14:12 to cap the three-goal period and build on command of Huskies. conduct.
UW junior Mathieu De St. Phalle gave the home crowd something to cheer about with 6:50 left in the third period, firing a shot to put the Badgers within two, 3-1. After second Daniel Laatch’s shot deflected several feet in the air, De St. Phalle located the bouncing puck in front of the net and rammed it for the score, letting out an emotional punch moments later. late.
Back-to-back goals from SCSU’s Spencer Meier and Dylan Anhorn at 15:11 and 16:27 into the third quickly dashed any hopes of a Badgers comeback as the Huskies cruised to a resounding 5-1 win.
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Similar to the previous night’s game, Saturday’s game featured a penalty just minutes into the first period. Wisconsin was gifted with a power play after St. Cloud State’s Grant Achan received a holdout penalty with 18:02 left in the first, but once again failed to convert – amassing a single shot on goal.
Wisconsin and St. Cloud State continued to show their defensive prowess throughout the period, with the Huskies leaving the former scoreless with a 7-6 shots advantage. As the second trudged on and the two teams remained deadlocked in a 0-0 tie, tensions boiled over with 10:50 left in the period.
Moments after UW forward Jack Gorniak’s shot was saved, Horbach rushed to the net in an attempt to snatch the puck from goaltender Dominic Basse. SCSU’s Krannila came hastily to his teammate’s defense, pounding Horbach from behind after the whistle. Officials did not believe the act constituted a penalty and play ensued shortly after.
Only minutes passed before Horbach found himself at the center of a second altercation. With 8:51 left in the second, the UW forward threw Veeti Miettinen onto the ice, but escaped without penalty. The linesmen’s attention was probably too focused on UW’s Owen Lindmark and SCSU’s Zach Okabe, who both took roughing penalties after battling on the ground.
The Badgers would find themselves back in the penalty area again soon after. As SCSU’s Adam Ingram chased the puck in Wisconsin’s defensive zone with 6:46 left in the period, UW junior Ty Smilanic controlled the forward from behind. The nasty blow resulted in Ingram falling headfirst into the boards and a five-minute major awarded to Smilanic.
Although Wisconsin managed to kill the middle finger – thanks in large part to goaltender Kyle McClellan, who blocked nine shots on goal during the penalty – SCSU Cruikshank’s shot nine seconds later found the back of the net, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Wisconsin stormed back in the third, as Ceulemans scored his first goal of the season 8:34 into the period. Handling a looping pass from defenseman Mike Vorlicky, Ceulemans fired the puck close over the defenders’ stick and into the top left corner of the net. The graceful score tied the game at one apiece and more than made up for the defender’s outburst and three-penalty performance the previous night.
With 6:16 to go and the score still tied, the Badgers were penalized for having too many players on the ice. The stupid mistake would soon prove costly, as SCSU’s Kyler Kupka buried the game-winning goal on the power play 14 seconds later to put the Huskies in the lead, 2-1.
Wisconsin received a final chance to tie the game less than a minute later after SCSU’s Jack Peart was sent to the penalty box for tripping. The Badgers — as they’ve been for much of the season — failed to convert, taking them to 1-12 (8.3%) on the power play in their first two series.
“I thought we played an amazing game tonight, defensively and offensively,” McClellan said. said. “But it’s one of those games that just didn’t work out.”
After the disheartening 2-1 loss and winless start to the season, Wisconsin hopes to find its way into the win column next week when it takes on Minnesota Duluth on the road. These contests are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, October 21 and 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 22.
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