MADISON, Wis. — The Michigan Tech Huskies got better goaltending from Bryce Luker Saturday night than they did from Cam Ellsworth the night before, but Luker got minimal help on the offensive end and the Badgers got their second straight Saturday night shutout, winning 3-0 in front of 12,328 fans.
Wisconsin outshot Tech 46-13 and the Huskies got just one shot on goal in the final period which helped Wisconsin goalie Brian Elliott earn his second shutout in as many starts.
“We did a lot of good things this weekend,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said. “You always strive for perfection, and it’s [not always] within your grasp, but it’s always fun to try and get there.”
“I think our guys approached the game with ‘Let’s see what kind of goaltending we’re going to get, let’s see what kind of effort we’re going to put in,’” Tech head coach Jamie Russell said.
It was all Badgers from the get-go as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game and didn’t look back.
The Badgers got on the board at the 6:40 mark of the opening period while on a power play.
Freshman Matt Auffrey found Jeff Likens at the top of the crease and Likens blasted a one-timer by the glove of Luker for what would eventually be the game-winning goal.
The sophomore goalie got the nod between the pipes after Ellsworth gave up seven goals Friday night.
Luker let another one by less than three minutes after the first. Robbie Earl’s shot was blocked but freshman Joe Pavelski got his stick on the bouncing puck, and chipped it into the net.
Pavelski, with a goal and an assist on the night, now has two points in each of the Badgers’ first four games.
When the young player was asked if he knew who the only two players in Badger history were to average two points a game, he replied, “I’m not quite sure. Mark Johnson and … Mike Eaves?”
He was correct.
The Badgers dominated the first period, launching 19 shots on goal to the Huskies’ five.
“I thought we got beat to every loose puck and we lost all the battles along the walls,” Russell said. “I think it was that kind of wait-and-see how we’re going to come out and that’s unacceptable.”
The second period went by quickly as only three penalties were called over the 20 minutes. The Badgers controlled the game for the majority of the period despite the fact that the Huskies had all three power plays.
Wisconsin’s leading returning scorer, Ryan MacMurchy, got his first goal of the season at 12:08 of the period when he snapped off a wrister from the right circle over the right shoulder of Luker.
The Huskies got just three shots on net during their six minutes worth of power play, a problem that would plague them. They had just five shots on seven power plays for the night.
The teams played a scoreless third period as the Badgers held the Huskies to just one shot on goal. Coincidentally, that shot came from the opposite end of the ice.
“I bet (defenseman) Tom Gilbert had more saves than me in the third period, he blocked so many shots,” Elliott said. “It’s great to get the win and we’re just going to keep on going.”
“Give Wisconsin credit, they shut the door in the third period,” Russell said.
Elliott, who shut out Mercyhurst last Saturday night, got his second of the young season, getting the start over All-American goalie Bernd Bruckler.
“One of our goals is trying to get him more games,” Eaves said. “Mentally he’s sharp and physically he’s ready to play.”
“I think it was a team shutout rather than my shutout, because we all played great tonight and it showed,” Elliott said.
Russell was happy with Luker’s play in net, but disappointed in the defense’s play in front of him.
“He rose to the challenge. I thought he played extremely well,” Russell said.
For the Badgers, it was the first time since 1991 that they scored 10 or more goals in consecutive weekends, and they got contributions from nearly every player in the lineup.
Michigan Tech, after being swept for the second straight weekend, returns home for a series with Alaska-Anchorage next weekend.
“We need to regroup and it’s a tough start for a very young team. It’s going to be a learning process for us.”
The Badgers, fresh off of their second straight sweep, will host defending national champion Denver next weekend.