MADISON, Wis. — Saturday, the University of Wisconsin used two quick first-period goals and consistent offensive intensity to defeat the University of Massachusetts-Amherst 3-0 to complete a weekend series sweep.
“It was more under control tonight,” Badger coach Jeff Sauer said, in reference to his team’s 9-6 victory Friday.
Wisconsin (2-0) got on the board first just 25 seconds into the game when Dany Heatley found linemate David Hukalo for a shot in the high slot that beat Minuteman goalie Markus Helanen top-shelf.
“[Helanen said] the puck kind of knuckled in,” UMass-Amherst (0-2) coach Don Cahoon said. “It hit a stick and deflected in.”
Just five minutes and nine seconds later, Jeff Dessner put the Badgers on top 2-0 on a shot from just within the blue line.
“Our kids didn’t die by any means,” Cahoon said. “You can’t expect to come back from two goals down two nights in a row.”
Heatley nearly added another Wisconsin goal on a power play midway through the first period. The Badgers’ second-leading scorer from a year ago broke in on Helanen and appeared to have him beaten short-side, but the puck rolled off his stick, not allowing him to get off a clean shot.
UMass nearly tallied a goal about six minutes into the second period when center Mike Warner fed wing R.J. Gates for a one-timer in front of Wisconsin goalie Graham Melanson. The Badger goaltender, however, was able to get a pad on the puck, maintaining the 2-0 shutout.
On a 4-on-4 with 10:24 left in the second period, Heatley — who was hounded by the Minutemen all evening — fired a rocket of a wrist shot from the top of the circle, but Helanen stretched out and made a nice glove save.
“No one sees the game better than Dany,” Cahoon said.
“You can see right now what is going to happen to Heatley in terms of attention,” Sauer said. “I thought he handled it pretty well tonight.”
Fourteen seconds later, Wisconsin center Kent Davyduke deked around a defenseman and fired a backhand against the grain. Helanen was true to the challenge, again putting a nice blocker stop on the puck.
Defenseman Randy Drohan was called for interference on the play, and on the ensuing power play, Heatley set up Hukalo for a one-timer at the faceoff dot, but Helanen slid across and once again denied the Badgers. Wisconsin got the first good chance of the third period when Hukalo fed wing Matt Doman cruising through the circle. Helanen, though, again kept the Minutemen in the game.
“I thought the goaltending at both ends was pretty good,” Cahoon said.
Wisconsin found an answer to Helanen at the 10:09 mark in the third period off a power play. On the play, Doman got the puck point-blank and tried to go short-side with a wrist shot. The UMass goaltender made the initial save, but Doman dug the puck out from Helanen’s pads and sent the puck into the back of the net.
Wisconsin’s Melanson, who gave up all six goals the night before, recorded the seventh shutout of his career on Saturday.
“Probably every Saturday morning when we have a bad Friday night, the first thing I say at our meeting is, ‘The sun came up; it is over with, you can’t do anything about it, let’s get ready for tonight,’” Sauer said. “I think Graham approached it with that attitude.”
“My sister called me [last night] and she asked me how it went,” Melanson said. “I was disappointed, but once I started telling her I started laughing. I said, ‘Wow, I have a goals against average of well over six, and there is nothing I that I can do about it.’ I honestly do not care about [the statistics]. I would rather see a win.”