The third period is quickly becoming a very comfortable place for the Badgers. Wisconsin tallied five goals in the final session en route to an 8-0 rout of the Mercyhurst Lakers Saturday night in Madison, sweeping its weekend series.
Sophomore forwards Jake Dowell and Ross Carlson notched three points apiece on two goals and an assist each, while junior forward Ryan MacMurchy assisted on the first three goals to pick up a trio of points in his first action since March.
The No. 9 Badgers (2-0-0) seemed to be running on all cylinders in a game that saw complete domination from the home team on offense, defense and, perhaps most notably, on special teams.
The penalty killing unit shut down Mercyhurst (0-2-0) seven times, while the power play line converted on 50 percent of its chances (3-for-6). For the weekend, the Badgers scored six times while on the man advantage.
"We need to continue to build on that," UW head coach Mike Eaves said. "I really like the way we competed on the power play, but we weren't as fluid or consistent as I would like.
"But it was positive – we put the puck in the net and we did some good things."
Though Wisconsin goalie Brian Elliott recorded his first career shutout with an 18-save effort, it was a superb defensive stand in front of the crease that made the task relatively easy. The Badgers blocked 21 shots and continually stymied what few threats the Laker offense could muster.
"I loved the way they blocked shots," Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin said. "I thought that was a huge difference last night and tonight. We finally did some good things, but we had a hard time getting the puck to the net … That hindered us."
On the other side of the ice the Badger forwards put Laker netminder Mike Ella, making his first college hockey appearance, through the proverbial gauntlet with 43 shots on goal. By the second intermission the Badgers held a 3-to-1 advantage in shots and boasted a 3-0 lead.
"Even being down 3-0 after the second we thought we were still in this thing," Gotkin said. "We could just never get it going."
Indeed things would not get better for the visitors. Any chance of Mercyhurst overcoming this deficit was squashed during to a two-and-a-half minute stretch early in the third period that saw Dowell, Carlson and freshman forward Joe Pavelski put in three more goals for the Badgers. Junior forward A.J. Degenhardt and junior defenseman Tom Gilbert would also collect scores before the night was over.
"I definitely feel a lot more confident in the variety of scorers we have on the team," Dowell said. "A lot of different people can put the puck in the net … We're a lot more offensive minded this year."
MacMurchy showed no signs of rust in his return to the lineup, picking up two assists in a second period that was dominated by the Cardinal and White. Wisconsin's top returning offensive threat set up both Dowell and Carlson with power play goals to cement the team's early lead.
"The thing I liked about MacMurchy tonight is where his mind was at," Eaves said. "He didn't expect too much of himself … He showed a maturation that will make him a better hockey player."
The Badgers' newest scoring line wasted no time in picking up their first goal, getting the Badgers on the board at 12:10 of the opening session courtesy of a wraparound goal from freshman forward Matt Auffrey. MacMurchy, who sat out last night's contest due to suspension, and Andrew Joudrey assisted on the freshman's second goal of the series, the first of the weekend to come on even strength.
Wisconsin will be at the Kohl Center again in a week's time for their conference opener with the 0-2-0 Michigan Tech Huskies.
Wisconsin hassles Mercyhurst
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