Even when things haven’t been going the Badgers way in the win-loss columns early this season, one constant has been the team’s ability to play well on the power play. That continued on Friday night, as the Badgers (6-3-0) used a pair of power play goals to propel them to a 3-2 victory over the Merrimack Warriors (4-6-3).
Jake Linhart put a wrist shot past Merrimack’s Drew Vogler for his first goal of the season on Wisconsin’s second power play of the night (14:12 of the 1st period).
Max Zimmer also opened his scoring account for the season to push UW to a 3-1 lead early on in the final period.
Wisconsin finished 2 of 8 on the power play on the night. Meanwhile, its defense shut the door on Merrimack, allowing just three power play opportunities to the visitors and killing off every one of those opportunities.
Early goals have been a large part of the story of the Badgers season so far this year, usually that hasn’t been a good thing. After watching multiple opponents get quick goals, the Badgers decided to partake in the early-goal party for themselves for a change.
Just 21 seconds in to the game, Badgers captain Luke Kunin netted his sixth goal of the season to put the hosts up 1-0. Kunin got a great pass from Ryan Wagner and snuck one past Vogler for the opener.
Wisconsin kept up the pressure for most of the first period, outshooting the Warriors 11-6 in the period. However, after the opening goal things settled down a bit. That is until Linhart made the most out of a wide open opportunity
It was Linhart’s first goal of the season, and it is worth seeing:
The second period went off without much in the way of action for the announced crowd of 7,126 at the Kohl Center. However, Merrimack’s Brett Seney apparently had UW’s number.
The junior forward netted both of the Warriors goals, with the first coming at the 7:22 mark of the second period. It was the only real chance Merrimack had in the period, and a lot of the credit for the scoreline remaining in Wisconsin’s favor had to go to freshman netminder Jack Berry.
He made just his second start of his career, but stopped 17 of 19 shots on the night and certainly looked like the man that can lead the Badgers from between the pipes. Berry appeared poised and calm between the pipes and commanded the group in front of him well all night long.
Wisconsin’s one-goal lead lasted until the second power play goal was put in by Zimmer at the 1:36 mark of the third period.
Merrimack wasn’t going away without a fight though, as it took less than five minutes for Seney to respond with his second goal of the game and fifth of the season at the 5:37 mark of the final stanza.
However, the Warriors couldn’t find a way to get any more offense going and largely shot themselves in the foot. Merrimack racked up three of its eight penalties on the night in the final period and just could never get consistent 5-on-5 play to go their way.
These two teams will meet tomorrow night at 7p.m. CT in the series finale at the Kohl Center.