Late goal pushes Badgers past Nebraska-Omaha, 4-3

Game Photo
Wisconsin 16 Wisconsin 4, 13 Nebraska Omaha 3
CenturyLink Center • Omaha, Neb. • Attendance: 10,543

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Omaha

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1st 2nd 3rd Final
 Wisconsin
1 1 2 4
 Nebraska Omaha
1 0 2 3
Eaves Postgame Small Video Graphic  |  Woods Postgame Small Video Graphic |  Mersch Postgame Small Video Graphic
 Scoring Summary
1st 03:08 WIS Zengerle (Kerdiles)
1st 07:45 UNO Walters (Zombo)
2nd 09:02 WIS Mersch (Schulze)
3rd 05:25 UNO Aneloski (Montpetit, Archibald)
3rd 05:57 WIS LaBate (Mersch)
3rd 11:07 UNO Sustr (Zombo, Walters)
3rd 18:18 WIS Woods (R. Little, Simonelli)
 Goaltender Summary Min GA Sv
WIS Rumpel (9-7-4) 59:26 3 24
UNO Massa (0-1-0) 59:02 4 24
 Statistical Comparison
WIS UNO
 Shots on Goal 28 27
 Power Plays 0-2 2-4
 Penalties-Minutes 6-12 4-8
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March 1, 2013

OMAHA, Neb. -- In a game that went back and forth all night, the No. 16 Wisconsin men's hockey team (15-11-7, 11-7-7 WCHA) was able to outlast No. 13 Nebraska Omaha (18-13-2, 14-9-2) on the road Friday courtesy of some last minute heroics.

With the score tied at three with under two minutes left in the third period, Badgers' sophomore forward Brendan Woods picked up a loose puck in the slot and put it home, providing the game-winning score in the series opener with UNO. 

Woods said that, on the play, he stayed out for his shift longer than he probably should have, but it paid off in the form of his first career game-winning goal.

"With [Derek Lee] out, I knew I had to step up and I was glad I could be able to contribute," Woods said. 

 Fast Facts
Brendan Woods netted the first game-winning goal of his career, scoring the decisive goal with 1:48 left in the third period.
Michael Mersch scored his team-leading 18th goal of the season in the win.
• With an assist, Kevin Schulze contunued his hot streak with his fourth point in the past six games.

Four different players recorded goals for the Badgers and eight different players earned a point in a complete offensive effort that helped Wisconsin edge out the host Mavericks. 

Wisconsin and UNO traded goals all night, and, according to junior forward Michael Mersch, it was the Badgers' resiliency that helped them prevail. 

"We just had to keep pushing back, and we did that tonight," Mersch said.

The back and forth scoring started in a first period that ended tied at one.

UW junior forward Mark Zengerle opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game, converting on a 2-on-1 with a shot that trickled past Omaha goaltender Ryan Massa. Zengerle followed his shot and poked the trickling puck into the net for his seventh tally of the season. 

Zengerle's goal marked the ninth time this season that the Badgers have scored first on the road. But, it didn't take long for Omaha to rally. 

UNO junior forward Ryan Walters found the back of the net just over four minutes later to tie the score, and quickly after that it looked as if the Mavericks had taken the lead, but the Badgers benefited from a referee review that overturned the on-ice call of a goal, and kept the score tied at one.

After the first period, Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves switched his second and third-line centers, putting junior Jefferson Dahl on the third line and moving Woods up to play with Mersch and sophomore Joseph LaBate. The move paid off, as the LaBate-Woods-Mersch unit went on to score the Badgers' next three goals, the first of which gave UW a 2-1 lead after two periods.

"They did a lot of good things," Eaves said of the Labate-Woods-Mersch line. "There were good things happening and hopefully that can continue."  

Woods added that he believes it was the communication between LaBate, Mersch and himself that was a big part of their success Friday night.

"We read off each other, talk[ed] on the bench, which I think is really big," Woods said of the line's chemistry. "We let each other know what we think we could have done different or better."

Mersch netted the only goal of the second frame, collecting a loose puck in the crease after a shot from the point from freshman defender Kevin Schulze. The goal was Mersch's team-leading 18th of the season. For Schulze, the assist is his fourth point in his past six games.

The Badgers wasted no time re-taking the lead after UNO senior blue liner Bryce Aneloski's power-play goal tied the game early in the third period, scoring on the next shift just over 20 seconds later.

On the play, despite losing his balance, Mersch was able to find LaBate off the left post and the Eagan, Minn., native re-directed it into the back of the net to put Wisconsin up, 3-2. 

But, again, Omaha responded quickly, again on the power play, as junior defenseman Andrej Suster buried a rebound to knot the game at three just over five minutes later.

With the third period winding down, it looked like the Badgers were heading for another overtime game until the puck found Woods' stick with 1:48 left on the clock.

Wisconsin outshout UNO, 28-27, in the win. UW sophomore goaltender Joel Rumpel made 24 saves on the night to earn his ninth win of the season.

The Badgers and Nebraska Omaha conclude their two-game series Saturday night at CenturyLink Center Omaha. Puck drop for the series finale is at 7 p.m.

--

Ryan Evans
UW Athletic Communications 

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