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College Hockey:
Rumpel and his three gloves carry No. 8 Wisconsin past Michigan State

20140222 MichiganState Wisconsin 01 Rumpel and his three gloves carry No. 8 Wisconsin past Michigan State

Wisconsin forward Michael Mersch (center) salutes the fans after his second-period, power-play goal Saturday (photo: Dan Sanger).

MADISON, Wis. — It didn’t seem to matter which glove Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel used on Saturday.

The puck was ending up in it regardless.

Rumpel used three different catching gloves on his left hand but turned away all 31 Michigan State shots in a 2-0 victory for the eighth-ranked Badgers at the Kohl Center.

The webbing on his game glove ripped on what would have been a routine glove save with less than seven minutes to play in the third period, not exactly the time a goaltender with a shutout going wants to be changing equipment.

He used backup Landon Peterson’s glove for a brief period of time — making a save, naturally, with the glove hand — until a staff member could retrieve his backup mitt from the locker room.

“Three glove saves with three difference gloves might be a new Badger record,” Rumpel said.

It was Rumpel’s ninth shutout in 75 collegiate starts, and it came courtesy of a pair of Wisconsin power-play goals and amid a bit of controversy.

Joseph LaBate and Michael Mersch scored for the Badgers, who hit the net four times on the man advantage in the sweep of the Spartans. That’s as many power-play goals as they scored in their first 14 Big Ten games combined.

Eaves cited that as one of the high points from the victory but mentioned Rumpel’s performance at the top.

“As good as he was tonight, he looked so calm doing it,” Eaves said. “I thought he was big back there.”

Wisconsin wrapped up its home schedule with a 17-2-1 record, its best at home since moving to the Kohl Center in 1998.

Its .875 home winning percentage is second in program history behind the .950 (19-1) by the 1972-73 team.

LaBate put the Badgers (19-9-2, 10-5-1 Big Ten) ahead in the first period when his shot from the slot deflected off a pair of Spartans penalty killers — Thomas Ebbing, then Jake Chelios — before eluding goaltender Jake Hildebrand (28 saves).

The Spartans (9-15-7, 3-7-6-4) thought they tied the game on a power play four minutes later, but a Matt DeBlouw goal was overruled after a video review.

DeBlouw’s slap shot from the right point beat Rumpel, but the referees determined Spartans center Lee Reimer had a skate in the crease and was interfering with Rumpel’s sight line.

Rule 73.1 says an attacking player can stand in the crease unless the officials determine the player is “physically or visually preventing the goalkeeper from defending the goal.”

Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said referees explained to him that Reimer was interfering with Rumpel’s ability to stop the puck, but LaBate’s earlier goal was allowed to stand after replay despite Wisconsin’s Jedd Soleway occupying a similar area as the shot was taken.

“I thought our team dealt with the frustration of what appeared to be a very similar situation,” Anastos said. “We kept getting stronger. We just kept playing. We competed real hard. I thought we deserved better, but we didn’t get it.”

Wisconsin added a second power-play goal in the second period on a nice passing play that Mersch finished off in front of the net.

The Badgers scored a pair of power-play goals for the second straight day after doing so only three times all season entering the series. Two of those previous three games were Wisconsin losses.

Mersch had three of the four power-play goals in 11 chances against the Spartans for the Badgers, who were 4-for-38 in 14 games against Big Ten teams before the weekend.

Some extra power-play work in practice and some more attention to detail made the difference.

“We took some time as a group to work on getting the puck to the net and just keeping it simple,” Mersch said.

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