DULUTH, Minn. -- With the WCHA in its final season, Wisconsin (1-2-1, 1-0-1 WCHA) and Minnesota Duluth skated to a 2-2 tie in overtime on Saturday night in what could be the final meeting of the two teams as WCHA members.
The Bulldogs (2-3-1, 0-1-1 WCHA) controlled the game for the entirety of the first two periods, but the Badgers were able to battle back and come up with a two-goal third period to force the draw. The comeback ensured they’d leave Duluth with a three-point opening weekend in WCHA play.
By skating to a win and tie, the Badgers became the first UW hockey team to open up WCHA play with three points since the 2005-06 team.
A night after recording his fourth career shutout, UW goalie Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) battled through early-game adversity, enduring 37 shots on goal and came up with 35 saves.
The worst of the storm that Rumpel had to endure came over the first two periods when UMD recorded a total of 26 shots on goal. Shutout the night before, it didn’t take the Bulldogs long to light the lamp Saturday night inside the AMSOIL arena.
Just two minutes into the first period, Tony Cameranesi was in the right place at the right time as a blocked initial shot bounced to Cameranesi who finished in an empty goal to give UMD the 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs finished a 2-on-1 for their second goal. With 5:00 left in the second period, Keegan Flaherty took the kept on the 2-on-1 rush and perfectly placed the puck between Rumpel’s arm and body to extend the UMD lead to 2-0.
Down two goals with a period to play and needing to make something happen, the Badgers responded a minute and a half into the third period with a great sequence of pressure on UMD goalie Matt McNeely.
Just 1:36 into the third period, Wisconsin made it a game. A UMD defender skated up the middle in front of his own goal and freshman Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Minn.) put the body on him to turn the puck over. Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) took it from there and knocked it off the bar and in to cut the Bulldogs lead to 2-1.
With the lead down to a goal, UW’s penalty kill kept the door open on a tie game. The Badgers killed five UMD power plays on the night, including three in the third period.
With 5:13 left in the third period, Mersch came off the boards, fought through a check, skated three steps to the high-right circle and took a wrist shot to score the game-tying goal and knot things up at 2-2.
The Badgers would pick up their fourth power-play opportunity of the night with 1:46 left in the third period after cross checking was called on UMD’s Keegan Flaherty, but the Bulldogs came up with the kill and sent the game into overtime.
Both teams skated to a scoreless extra period, with Minnesota Duluth recording the only shot on goal.
The Bulldogs outshot the Badgers 37-21 for the game.
Wisconsin returns home to the friendly confines of the Kohl Center next weekend to host Colorado College in its home-opening series, Nov. 2-3.
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