MINNEAPOLIS — One goal was all it took.
When Wisconsin freshman Michael Mersch scored on his third attempt with just 43 seconds left in the first period, the Badgers—dominant throughout the initial frame—finally had the goal long sought.
And they never looked back.
They added four more tallies in the second and one in the third, shutting out archrival Minnesota 6-0 at Mariucci Arena.
“We had some chances. The puck literally bounced over our about stick three times. But getting that goal kind of settled everything down and confirmed what we were doing,” said Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves.
Both the Badgers and the Gophers skated seven freshmen on the night. The Wisconsin rookies played better, scoring four goals and adding four helpers to their stat sheets.
“A lot of times when you have freshman you do not know what it will be like when they come into this building. They seemed fine tonight,” Eaves said.
“The real test will be how they respond tomorrow.”
The game was won in the corners.
“We found a lot of ways to get the pucks around the net and put them in,” said Eaves.
“We didn’t eliminate them in our own zone,” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia.
The second period carnage started at 1:50 when Mark Zengerle banked a puck off the back of the Gophers net around the defenseman to a wide open Derek Lee who slammed it home. Kangas, who was guarding the far post, never saw the pass.
“You got have to have a little mental toughness, when you get down by one or two. You have to stop the bleeding and tonight we couldn’t,” Lucia said.
Wisconsin made it 3-0 on another goal line play from the right side. Zengerle dug the puck out of the right corner and found Craig Smith behind the net. Smith flipped the puck to Jordy Murray who came out of the corner. Murray shot the puck while diving into the far left corner of the net to complete a highlight real goal for the Badgers.
At 12:12 Michael Mersch got his second goal of the game. Michael poked a puck that was loose under Kangas past the line. Frankie Simonelli took the initial shot.
Zengerle put an explanation point in the period with under a minute to play tapping in a rebound on the weak side on the power play.
Tyler Barnes completed the scoring for the Badgers, notching the fourth goal by a freshman class that has excelled early in the season.
The same two teams faceoff Saturday night at 7 p.m.