MADISON, Wis. -- Following an offensive battle the night before that saw nine combined goals, the Badgers (9-9-2, 4-8-2 WCHA) pulled out a 2-1 nail-biter victory over RIT (10-8-2, 7-4-2 Atlantic Hockey) Saturday night for the sweep.
The defensive trend started early Saturday night with both teams failing to score a goal in the first period. The Badgers outshot to Tigers 9-5 in that opening period.
Wisconsin made sure the scoreless trend didn't last long though and for the second night in a row, the Badgers struck first, scoring just over two minutes into the second period.
The goal came courtesy of freshman Joseph LaBate (Eagan, Minn.) who put the puck in for the fourth time this season off a centering pass from sophomore and fellow Eagan native, Tyler Barnes. Sophomore Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) also assisted on the play, the first of two points for him on the night.
More significantly, that assist extended Zengerle's historic point-scoring streak to 19 straight games, just two shy of head coach Mike Eaves' 21-game school record.
• McCabe scored his second game-winning goal in as many nights, tallying at 3:20 of the third period on the power play.
• Mark Zengerle collected two assists to extend his scoring streak to 19 games, two behind the UW record held by current head coach Mike Eaves.
• Joel Rumpel stopped 21 of 22 shots to improve to 6-3-2 on the season in goal for the Badgers.
Also just as Friday evening, RIT came back to tie the game at 1-1 nearly four and a half minutes after Wisconsin opened the scoring. Chris Saracino tied the game on the power play for RIT, 6:42 into the second period.
The Tigers faced another prime opportunity when Wisconsin freshman Matt Paape (Appleton, Wis.) was sent to the box for an elbowing penalty with 6:30 left in the second. RIT unleashed an onslaught on the Badger defense, but Wisconsin held strong and killed off the penalty.
Sophomore Sean Little (Fond du Lac, Wis.) was right in the middle of the attack from the Tigers.
"I kind of blocked it out half way through," Little said. "It was definitely the longest shift of my career. I'm usually known for my short shift, not the best stamina, not the best skating stride. I couldn't tell you how many shots I blocked."
The Badgers struck quickly again though coming out of the locker room, this time scoring 3:20 into the final period. Freshman Jake McCabe (Eau Claire, Wis.), who scored his first goal ever as a Badger Friday evening, notched his second in as many nights and his second game-winner to put Wisconsin up, 2-1.
With the Badgers already on the power play, RIT's Greg Noyes was given a five minute for checking from behind and a game misconduct and was sent off the ice 1:53 into the period, offering Wisconsin a 5-on-3 advantage. Although the Tigers outlasted the attack down two men, McCabe put the puck in the net just seconds after the first penalty ended and the Badgers took the lead.
"It was nice that you could see our guys right before the five-on-three started, they got in a little circle, and they were talking about our options and what we wanted to run," Eaves said. "They went through each stage and executed and eventually scored the goal. Kudos to them, they did a tremendous job
Derek Lee (North Vancouver, B.C.) collected his second assist of the series on the play while Zengerle grabbed his fourth assist of the weekend.
Freshman goalie Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) won his sixth game this season while collecting 21 saves.
Wisconsin put 19 shots on goal while the Tigers collected 22. Meanwhile, the Badgers went 1-4 on the power play and RIT converted 1-of-5 with the man advantage.
Wisconsin is in action next week on the road at Minnesota State. Game time Friday night is 7:30 p.m., while the puck drops Saturday at 7 p.m.