The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team is 27 games inside its season, and captain Tarek Baker sounded annoyed that a basic attribute like competing is not given.
It was on top of a stack of numbers Friday when The Badger was overworked and played by No. 4 Michigan at the Kohl Center.
“We didn’t have enough guys, really across the board, who were willing to get their noses dirty, play physically against their tough guys and their fast guys and their talents,” Baker said. “They just outscored us tonight.”
There’s a reason Michigan is in the top ten, and Badgers is close to the bottom. The Wolverines showed their depth in a 5-1 victory, sending the Badgers to a three-game losing streak for the second time this season.
Michigan did not have two of its best players and still generated a comfortable triumph against a UW team that is once again struggling to stay with the opponents.
“As a group, we need to start looking in the mirror,” Baker said. “Did you take it with you tonight? Have you worked hard enough? We should not question ourselves (27) fights in, but that’s where we are now.”
Coach Tony Granato said the Badgers did not make it difficult for Michigan players to have a good night. Mackie Samoskevich scored and added two assists, and five Wolverines players scored goals.
UW was hoping to use the energy from a large student department and the presence of former players at the alumni weekend to get a jump on Wolverines, which is No. 1 in the PairWise rankings.
It could not have been much different than planned. Michigan was in control from the start and kept it that way throughout.
“It’s about outcompeting the other team,” said Badger’s defender Anthony Kehrer, who was minus-4. “When you have those chances to get it out, and when you have those chances against skilled guys to place the puck in the next zone, then you have to get it done.”
Badgers goalkeeper Jared Moe was removed from his third start in a row after allowing four goals in 33 minutes. Granato said the blame not only fell on Moe, but making a change is one of the ways a coach can try to shake a sleepy team.
“If there are nights like tonight where it does not go our way and we need a spark or something, then it must fall on someone,” Moe said. “Unfortunately, it’s me sometimes.”
Granato said he was not sure if Moe, who has started 11 games in a row, would be back Saturday night. Cameron Rowe stopped 18 out of 19 shots in relief Friday.
“I will not lie to you: it is certainly a challenge mentally,” Moe said. “Nobody wants to be pulled out of the fights. It’s been three right now, which has not happened to me before. That’s just how it works.”
The Badgers (8-16-3, 4-10-1-2 Big Ten) have been beaten 16-4 during their three-game losing streak. In October, Michigan (20-7-1, 11-3-0-3) sent them to yet another three-game slip; on that stretch, UW scored 12-2.
Carson Bantle’s third goal in the last two games gave the Badgers some life in the second period, but it was short-lived. Michigan answered Bantle’s power play goal with a Luke Morgan rebound to a 3-1 lead.
Samoskevich’s shot from the high castle made it 4-1 later in the second period and marked the end of the night for Moe.
Wolverines began a stretch without defender Owen Power, No. 1 in last year’s NHL draft, and striker Kent Johnson. Both are at Canada’s pre-Olympic training camp in Switzerland.
But two pending U.S. Olympians contributed to a deep Michigan attack. Matty Beniers, number 2 in 2021, scored a goal in the third period and set Morgan’s scoring.
Brendan Brisson was a physical presence all night. He got into a second period scrap with Dominick Mersch getting the UW forward expelled for head contact.
Michigan scored the third goal of the season from Morgan and the fifth from Dylan Duke and Samoskevich.
“It’s good to see we got some goals from some different places tonight,” Wolverine coach Mel Pearson said.
Depth is one of the questions for the Badger, but it will not even be a factor if they can not get past the basics of being hard to play against.
“We were standing around,” Granato said. “When you stand around, you can not skate. You do not skate. You can not stick your nose in there. They flew up and down the rink and we did not do enough to get involved in fights, get involved in the race for the puck. “
Photos: Michigan men’s hockey defeats Wisconsin
First period: M – Duke 5 (Edwards, Samoskevich), 12:15; Bordeleau 7 (Beniers, Samoskevich), 19:56 (p.). Punishment: Mersch, W, 6:45 p.m.
Second period: W – Bantle 7 (Stange, Johnson), 2:30 (p.). M – Morgan 3 (Beniers, Pastujov), 5:04; Samoskevich 5 (Beecher, Edwards), 12:45. Penalties: Brisson, M, 1:07; Mersch, W (major, game misconduct), 5:37; Brisson, M, 5:37; Team, M, 9:05; Edwards, M, 9:53.
Third period: M – Beniers 16 (Blankenburg, Morgan), 10:12. Penalties: R. Donovan, W, 3:20; Baker, W, 6:38; Baker, W, 8:51; Brisson, M, 8:51; Duke, M, 3:05 p.m.
Hide: M (Portillo 10-5-11) 26; W (Moe 10-4-x, Rowe x-4-14) 32. Power plays: M 1-for-4; W 1-to-4. Att. – 9,994.