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Minnesota Match-up Looms After Badgers Split Tough Series at Miami-Ohio

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

There might not be a better way for the Wisconsin Badgers to open their inaugural season in the Big Ten Hockey conference than matching up with the No. 1 team in the Nation.

Pending any upsets this coming weekend, things are lined up for another epic border battle in Minneapolis come the end of November.

Bucky has plenty of time to ready for their match-up with the top-ranked Golden Gophers (8-1-1) as they rest on another bye after coming off a positive road trip in Ohio.

Wisconsin had two good showings this past Saturday. Junior goalie Joel Rumpel earned a win in his first action since the Red/White scrimmage, and Wisconsin’s Michael Mersch became the 50th Badger to score 50-career goals as UW (4-3-1) split on the road with No. 8 ranked Miami-Ohio (7-4-1).

The win Saturday came after Wisconsin lost the opener in the two-game set, 2-0. Goalie Landon Peterson, who’d been called into duty early on this season with Rumpel’s injury, got the start and played well again – allowing just one goal in 57-plus minutes of action. The final goal of the game came on an empty net as Wisconsin exhausted it’s final offensive efforts to send the game to an extra frame.

Head coach Mike Eaves hasn’t named a starter in net for the opener against the Gophers, though it’s likely Wisconsin will go one-two again with Peterson and Rumpel, or vice-versa.

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Peterson had what many consider to be his best collegiate showing in Minnesota last year against the then No. 3 ranked Gophers. He stopped career-high 41 shots in 2-2 overtime tie, killing off two five-minute major penalties along the way.

Rumpel has had equal success against rival Minnesota. Last season he made 36 saves in 3-2 victory over the then No. 2 Minnesota in Soldier Field at the Hockey City Classic. He was the WCHA leader in save percentage (.929) last season, and  finished second with a 1.96 goals-against average. Both marks were the second-best for a Badger goaltender in school history.

In game two, Saturday, RedHawk goaltender Ryan McKay, regarded by many as the top net-minder in all of college hockey, didn’t like the high-traffic areas Wisconsin created in front of the Miami net Saturday night. A strategy coach Mike Eaves thought might be the best way for the puck to find the net against a goalie who’d been playing as well as anyone they’d face in awhile.

Having allowed only two pucks past him out of the last 116 shots he faced coming into Saturday’s contest, McKay cracked and allowed three Saturday – the last coming at the 15:16 mark of the third period when Joseph LaBate

It all started when Tyler Barnes took the puck and drew a penalty on a near breakaway. The junior forward snapped off a shot that McKay stopped. LaBate though made an athletic moved after getting caught up in traffic, bouncing back to his feet as he trailed the play and cutting a tough angle on a rebound shot that trickled over the goalies shoulder and into the net.


Tags: Badgers Golden Gophers Hockey Joel Rumpel Joseph LaBate Landon Peterson Madison Michael Mersch Mike Eaves Minnesota Ryan McKay Tyler Barnes Wisconsin Hockey

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