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How sweep it is: Badgers' offense erupts in win over UNO

Game Photo
Wisconsin 16 Wisconsin 6, 13 Nebraska Omaha 2
CenturyLink Center • Omaha, Neb. • Attendance: 12,146

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1st 2nd 3rd Final
1 4 1 6
 Nebraska Omaha
1 0 1 2
Eaves Postgame Small Video Graphic  |  McCabe Postgame Small Video Graphic 
Zengerle Postgame Small Video Graphic
 Scoring Summary
1st 03:03 WIS Barnes (Zengerle, Mersch)
1st 13:46 UNO Archibald (Walters, Zombo)
2nd 02:56 WIS R. Little (McCabe)
2nd 12:00 WIS Mersch (Barnes, Zengerle)
2nd 17:01 WIS McCabe (Zengerle, Barnes) 
2nd 19:55 WIS Zengerle (Mersch, LaBate)
3rd 00:41 WIS Mersch (Simonelli, Kerdiles)
3rd 09:26 UNO Seeler (Zombo, Archibald)
 Goaltender Summary Min GA Sv
WIS Rumpel (10-7-4) 60:00 2 27
UNO Faulkner (15-7-2) 60:00 6 28
 Statistical Comparison
 Shots on Goal 34 29
 Power Plays 2-6 0-3
 Penalties-Minutes 7-25 9-29
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March 2, 2013

OMAHA, Neb. -- The No. 16 Wisconsin men's hockey team's (16-11-7, 12-7-7 WCHA) offense came to life Saturday night, tallying a season-high six goals to finish off a road sweep of No. 13 Nebraska Omaha (18-14-2, 14-10-2).

The Badgers broke the game open with a four-goal second period--a single-period high for Wisconsin this season--to pull away from Omaha for good.

Offensively, the Badgers were led by junior forwards Michael Mersch (two goals, two assists) and Mark Zengerle (one goal, three assists), who each recorded four points a piece in the win that Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves called the team's most complete effort of the season.

"We had offense tonight," he said. "We've played a lot of pretty good games this year, but haven't had the offensive thrust that we had tonight. So, having that completed everything else that we had been doing pretty well." 

 Fast Facts
Michael Mersch recorded four points, including his 19th and 20th goals of the season. 
Mark Zengerle also had four points in the win. 
• Wisconsin scored a season-high six goals, a single period high of four goals in the second period and equaled a season-high with two power play goals.

After the first period, it looked like the game had a chance to be a repeat of Friday's back-and-forth contest as the two teams traded goals.

For the second time this weekend the Badgers took an early lead as junior forward Tyler Barnes opened the game's scoring with a power-play tally just over three minutes into the contest. The goal also marked the tenth time this season that Wisconsin has scored first on the road. 

After UNO sophomore forward Josh Archibald tied the score just over 10 minutes later, Omaha had a chance to swing the momentum in its favor near the end of the first period as UW sophomore forward Brendan Woods was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit from behind, putting the Mavericks on a five-minute power play.

But Wisconsin finished killing off the penalty in the second period, and as a result, seized the momentum for itself.

Eaves said the game "very easily" could have broke open for UNO during their five-minute power play, but that his team was able to prevent that and turn the penalty kill into energy of its own. 

"When [Woods] went out of the line-up, that was either going to me a motivator or an excuse," Eaves said, "and the young men in that room talked about that and went out and made it a motivator."

The Badgers re-took the lead just nine seconds after Woods' major expired. Sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe earned the first of his two points on the night by carrying the puck into the UNO zone and bouncing it off the backboards. Omaha senior goalie John Faulkner couldn't handle the bounce and senior Ryan Little was able to tap in the loose puck.

After Little's goal, the offensive floodgates opened for Wisconsin as the Badgers poured in three more goals in the second frame to put Nebraska Omaha firmly in the rearview mirror.

Just over nine minutes after Little's goal, Mersch, McCabe and Zengerle each tallied in an eight-minute span to build the Badgers' lead to 5-1.

"Our fore check was phenomenal all weekend," McCabe said of Wisconsin's offense. "Our shooters' mentality was phenomenal and that shows with how many goals we scored."

Mersch added his second goal of the game--and 20th of the season--early in the third period to extend it to a 6-1 game.  UNO freshman defender Nick Seeler scored later in the frame to round out the game's scoring.

With his two goal performance, Mersch became the first Badger to score 20 goals in a season since both Mike Davies and Blake Geoffrion accomplished the feat during the 2009-10 season. 

Wisconsin outshot UNO, 34-29, Saturday night and sophomore goaltender Joel Rumpel--making his second straight start--turned away 27 shots for his 10th win of the season. The Badgers also equaled a season-high with two power-play goals. 

The Badgers return to action, and conclude their regular season, next weekend in a special throwback series at the Dane County Veteran's Memorial Coliseum against St. Cloud State. Face off is at 7 p.m. for both Friday and Saturday's games. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or at the Alliant Energy Center box office.


Ryan Evans
UW Athletic Communications  

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