In a battle between the NCAA’s all-time wins leader and one of the newest coaches in college hockey, first year head coach Tony Granato came out on top.
The Wisconsin men’s hockey team (2-1-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) gave Granato his second career win by defeating sixth-ranked Boston College (1-2-0, 0-0-0-0 Hockey East) 3-1 at the Kohl Center on Friday night. Power-play goals from Grant Besse and Ryan Wagner as well as a third-period goal from Seamus Malone secured a Wisconsin win in the first home game of the 2016-17 season.
Sophomore goalie Matt Jurusik was also outstanding in the contest stopping 29 of 30 shots that he faced from the Eagles.
“It was good to get that confidence back those first two games this season. I was a little shaky coming off a long off-season, but I felt really comfortable in net today and I think it showed,” Jurusik said.
The Wisconsin power play continued its early-season prowess as the Cardinal and White added two more tallies to their power-play goal count, which boosted their total to seven through three games. They have scored at least one goal with the man-advantage in each game so far this season.
“It was a great game for power play and for penalty kill,” junior forward Ryan Wagner said. That’s kind of something coach has been stressing after playing last weekend, there was 20-plus penalties both ways. We’ve just been working hard in practice and looking to improve each and every game.”
Grant Besse opened the scoring with his first goal of the year on the man-advantage 4:27 into the first period to give the Badgers an early 1-0 lead. The alternate captain stepped out in front of the BC net and finished off his own rebound, beating BC goalie Joe Woll top-shelf. Cameron Hughes and Jake Linhart assisted on the play.
“That first goal is a big difference because if you remember last week against Northern (Michigan) the first shift of the game was in our net and I remember what we felt like, just chasing all night and to get that,” Granato said. “A power-play goal like that, got our bench going and gave us a little bit of confidence and it certainly carried over in our 5-on-5 play.”
The score remained the same for the rest of the first period and most of the second period until defenseman Corbin McGuire drew a roughing and boarding penalty on the same play, putting UW on a 5-on-3 power-play with 1:39 left in the second period.
The Badgers wound up capitalizing on the ensuing two-man advantage as Wagner potted his first of the season off of a Tim Davison shot. Thanks to the late power-play goal, UW headed into the second intermission up by two goals.
Jurusik would make several key saves early in the third period to keep BC off the scoreboard, then Seamus Malone netted his second goal of the year, following up his own rebound after some nifty stick-handling to make it 3-0. Tim Davison added his second assist of the game on the play.
“Well, I think if you’re going to win games like that, you’re going to beat teams that are elite teams, you are going to have to score goals like that,” Granato said. “So, I love the way [Grant] Besse took the puck to the net on the power play on the first one. I love the way [Wagner] stuck his nose in there on the second one, and even the third one by Seamus [Malone] he drove the net well for that.”
BC bounced back with a goal of their own just 12 seconds later, but their late surge would prove to be too late as the Badgers closed out the Eagles in the remaining 10 minutes of the game.
The victory over Boston College snaps the Eagles’ five-game win streak over UW and marks Wisconsin’s first win in the series since the 2006 NCAA Championship Game.
The team will have a practice on Saturday and hit the ice for the second game of the series on Sunday at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU and will be available for radio broadcast on WTSO-AM 1070.
“I’d say there’s a good positive energy. Everybody got their feet wet last weekend and got all the jitters out, now we’re ready to roll this weekend,” Jurusik said. “Coming into this game we had a lot of confidence, a lot of poise, and like I said, I think it showed out there.”