MADISON, Wis. — In an unbelievably wild game at the Kohl Center, Wisconsin defeated UMass-Amherst 9-6 in the season opener for both teams.
“Well, it was exciting to the fans,” Badgers coach Jeff Sauer said. “Lot of goals, lot of horns.”
Wisconsin defenseman Alex Brooks put the Badgers ahead from the beginning with a shot from just below the circle.
Just over two minutes later, Wisconsin wing Kevin Granato was credited with a goal after an errant UMass-Amherst pass deflected off a skate and into the Minutemen net.
“I think the ref asked [Dave] Hergert who scored and he said ‘either 32 or 14,’” Granato said. “I was just surprised that there were two assists on the goal.”
The game’s wild beginning, however, was just a prelude to what happened in the second period.
Down 2-1, Minutemen center Thomas Poeck tied the game just 1:05 into the period.
Between the 5:12 and 8:20 marks in the second period, though, Badgers wings Erik Jensen and Dany Heatley and center Kent Davyduke put Wisconsin up 5-2. On the latter goal, Davyduke plucked the puck out of the air and placed it in the net.
“There were a lot of odd goals scored tonight,” Sauer said. “The goal that the puck went up in the air, and Davyduke put down [was the oddest].”
The second period barrage, however, was far from over.
About midway through the period, wing Scott Horvath put the Minutemen within 5-3 with a power-play goal.
“All of the goals [tonight], except for one or maybe two, were basically due to a breakdown in the deep zone coverage,” Sauer said. “Some of the breakdowns tonight were players trying to make that extra move instead of moving the puck.”
At the 16:17 mark in the second period, Granato gave Wisconsin a 6-3 lead. Just 14 seconds later, Amherst wing Tim Turner took an assist from his brother, Jeff, and made the score 6-4.
“[The Turner brothers] go pretty good,” Sauer said.
11 seconds later, Badgers center Andy Wheeler made it three goals in just 25 seconds, putting Wisconsin ahead 7-4.
By the 18:11 mark in the second period, the Minutemen’s Tim Turner and Wisconsin defenseman Dan Boeser made it five goals in less than two minutes. All entailed, the two teams combined for 10 goals in the second period off of just 26 shots.
“Every time we scored it seemed like they scored,” Heatley said. “It was just a weird game.”
“That second period was just wild,” Sauer said. “[Minutemen coach Don Cahoon] and I after the game, we just said to one other that ‘maybe you and I could have played in this game and scored a couple of goals.’ It was like a pond hockey game — back and forth.”
In a third period that was marked by 30 minutes in minor penalties, Amherst defenseman Toni Soderholm and Badger defenseman Brian Fahey capped the game’s scoring.
“[The game was a] nightmare for [Wisconsin goalie] Graham [Melanson],” Sauer said. “You can’t fault Graham on any of them because we just didn’t do a good job.
“It is one of those tapes that you think about watching, but it will probably end up in the bottom of the garbage can and we won’t even worry about it,” Sauer said.