Two weeks after a disastrous start against Boston College led Wisconsin to an embarrassing loss, the Badgers found themselves in a similar position again, when Lake Superior jumped out to a 3-0 lead just 4:09 into the first period.
But this weekend, the Badgers had an answer. Michael Mersch scored his fourth goal of the year on the power play to trim the deficit before the end of the first period. After being stifled throughout the second period and first half of the third period, the Badgers finally broke through late in the third period when Tyler Barnes tipped a Mark Zengerle shot out of the air at 11:18 of the third period. Then, with the goalie pulled and less than 1:30 to play, it was Barnes once again, finding his way to the side of the net for a rebound which he knocked in to tie the game.
The game was the type of tie where each team can feel happy to get something out of the game, while a little disappointed that they weren't able to get a win. Lake Superior has to feel like they missed a golden opportunity to get a road win against a team that should be ranked very highly by the end of the year. After building the early 3-0 lead, Lake Superior seemed content to play extremely cautiously, and hope those three goals were good enough. The problem is that that is extremely difficult to do for 56 minutes. It worked brilliantly through the second period, when Wisconsin had a lot of zone possession time, but very few scoring opportunities to show for it. But ultimately, a team like Wisconsin has so much talent, that if you keep giving them chances, eventually they're going to break through.
Meanwhile, for the Badgers, they probably would have been disappointed with a tie coming into the evening, but after taking a big punch early on by going down three goals, a tie doesn't seem like a terrible result. The slow starts are very concerning--likely not helped by a dismal crowd at puck drop--but they showed some nice toughness and resolve late in the game to tie things up.
The two teams meet again tomorrow night at 7pm to complete their series.