MADISON, Wis. – After allowing No. 8 Michigan to pull even late in the first period, the No. 14 Wisconsin men’s hockey team left no doubt over the final two frames, racing past the Wolverines, 3-1, much to the delight of the season-high 14,273 fans that packed the Kohl Center.
The crowd -- the largest since Feb. 18, 2012 -- watched UW (13-6-1, 4-2-0-0 B1G) run its home record to 12-1-1, while earning its second-straight conference sweep in the process.
Seemingly picking up where they left off in Friday night’s win, Wisconsin opened in command and broke through with a Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville, Ill.) score 14:06 into the contest. The senior lit the lamp off a rocket from just inside the blue line to get the Badgers off on the right foot.
The Wolverines (10-6-2, 2-2-0-0 B1G) wasted little time getting even, capitalizing on one of the few Wisconsin mistakes in the opening stanza after the Badgers put them on a power play with 2:35 left in the period. The Wolverines made the Badgers pay just 19 seconds later, when Andrew Copp beat UW goalie Joel Rumpel from the right dot to give Michigan plenty of momentum heading into the break.
But this game was more about its finish than its start.
After weathering an early surge by Michigan in the second period, the Badgers nudged ahead thanks to a tremendous effort by goaltender Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) and a Chase Drake (Mosinee, Wis.) tally. After Morgan Zulinick (Kamloops, British Columbia) saw his shot deflected away by Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort, Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) managed to win the rebound free and send it back to Drake, who fired it home to put Wisconsin on top.
With the way Rumpel was playing, that was all that Wisconsin needed to secure a win. Nevertheless, the Badgers still came out on the attack in the third period, outshooting Michigan 14-8 and getting a Joseph LaBate (Eagan, Minn.) goal that served as an exclamation point with 1:59 to go in the game. Jefferson Dahl (Eau Claire, Wis.) sparked the play with a long feed and watched LaBate do the rest as he outraced a defender and finished from the left wing.
Even down 3-1 with less than two minutes to go, Michigan refused to go away, though they had their comeback hopes all but extinguished when a Wolverine goal with 1:41 to go was wiped away after officials determined that Rumpel had been interfered with while attempting to make a play on the puck.
With his stellar performance, Rumpel moved to 10-1-0 for the season, saving 28 of 29 shots in a performance that cemented his spot at the top of the Big Ten in goals-against average and save percentage. Nagelvoort dropped to 6-5-1 after allowing three goals on 37 shots.
Both teams had three chances on the power play. Michigan scored once, while the Badgers were shut out.
Wisconsin has its second-to-last bye week of the season next weekend, before hosting Ohio State on Jan. 24-25.