OXFORD, Ohio — No. 12 Wisconsin scored twice in the final period to shock No. 8 Miami 3-2, earning a series split in their first-ever visit to Oxford.
Junior goaltender Joel Rumpel made 32 saves to earn the victory in his first action since October 12.
As well, it marked the first time since the 2011-12 season opener that the RedHawks had lost when leading at the second intermission, a span of 50 consecutive games.
On the game-winner, the Badgers had momentum and luck on their side as junior Joseph LaBate netted the game-winner at 15:17 of the third period. The Badgers came rushing at the net and a delayed penalty was called during their approach, giving them an extra attacker.
LaBate brought the puck around from behind the net at Miami goalie Ryan McKay’s right. The netminder made a pad save on the initial shot, but the puck popped up over his shoulder and hopped across the line at 15:17.
The Badgers took advantage of a RedHawks’ penalty to grab an early lead, peppering McKay with shots. Junior defenseman Jake McCabe fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat McKay for the power-play score at 16:52 in the opening period.
McCabe had felt he had just missed on several scoring opportunities in Friday’s shutout loss and was excited to earn the early goal.
“It’s funny, I didn’t know if that shot was gonna miss the net, but it went off right off of one of Miami’s pants and went right top shelf,” he said. “Last night. I didn’t have the puck luck, it bounced right under my stick, [but] tonight, I guess the hockey gods were on my side and decided to give me a bounce back.”
Miami came out firing in the second period, making Rumpel earn his keep. The quick strikes paid off as junior Blake Coleman ripped a tough-angle shot from the bottom of the circle at Rumpel’s left for a power-play goal at 5:01.
Both sides had some near misses in the following minutes, but Miami went in front at 14:28 courtesy of junior captain Austin Czarnik. He took a pass at center ice with only one defender to beat, got around him with a double move and then beat Rumpel through the five-hole.
However, the lead was not enough to hold off the Badgers.
Senior Michael Mersch knotted the game back up at 10:07 in the final period. A scrum was swarming around McKay, who found himself fighting from his belly until Mersch made contact with the puck.
“I was telling myself all game I needed one – I didn’t want one, I needed one,” Mersch said. “I was fortunate enough to get the puck on my stick and they blocked it a few times, [but] it finally made its way to the net. It hit off the crossbar and I just made sure that puck was going in the net and I went in with it.”
That set the stage for LaBate’s game-winner a little over five minutes later.
Miami coach Enrico Blasi said the loss came down to which side could make the last play.
“On their tying goal, we got a little sloppy in front of the net [and] on their winning goal, we got really sloppy in front of the net ’cause we were going to take a penalty,” said Blasi. “But they executed, that was the difference.”