DULUTH, Minn. – Wisconsin sophomore goaltender Joel Rumpel was good when he had to be in the Badgers’ 2-0 conference win against Minnesota Duluth, stopping all 29 shots he faced – including 12 in the final period – for his fourth collegiate shutout. Mark Zengerle (goal, assist) and Jake McCabe (two assists) led UW (1-2-0 overall, 1-0-0 WCHA) offensively. Rookie goalie Matt McNeely was solid for the Bulldogs (2-3-0 overall, 0-1-0 WCHA), turning away 24 shots in the losing effort.
What I saw
- Wisconsin’s defense was in complete control the game, even when the Bulldogs put on a late-game charge; the unit got the puck out of the zone quickly, limited their mistakes and chipped in offensively. Through two periods, UMD had only managed a handful of shot attempts from anywhere close to Rumpel, and once the Bulldogs woke up and started pressuring in the final period, UW’s blue-liners blocked shots and made simple, smart plays to clear any danger.
- Zengerle was great all night, and he probably could have had four or five points. There were several times when Zengerle gained control of the puck, changed speeds to create time and space, and then sauced a pretty pass into an area that only a teammate could get to. He also took advantage of shot opportunities (he threw nine pucks at the net in all) and it paid off with a snipe on the power play.
- Rumpel made some giant saves in the third to preserve the shutout and keep the Bulldogs frustrated. There was one save in particular – a sprawling backdoor stuff of UMD’s Joe Basaraba – that probably sealed the deal.
What I thought
- The Bulldogs have either played really well or really terribly in their first five games, and they need to find a way to play consistent hockey on a night-to-night basis. Several players – McNeely, Tony Cameranesi, and Drew Olson – played well tonight, but many other Bulldogs didn’t. Coach Scott Sandelin expected some growing pains, but, based on his emotions after the game, he’s not expecting anything like what we saw tonight out of UMD.
- Wisconsin responded very well to the adversity they faced, both coming into the series and during the course of the game. Obviously, losing a key player to injury is something that most teams deal with throughout a long season, but the Badgers didn’t miss a beat without center Derek Lee in the lineup. And when UW took a major penalty with the game still in question, it buckled down and killed it off thanks to some great efforts up and down the bench.
What they said
UMD coach Scott Sandelin: “Our energy level was good; our execution was not. We again dug ourselves a hole, and if Matty McNeely hadn’t been very good, it could’ve been more of a hole. Wisconsin played good, tight defense. We have to get into the tough areas and stay on pucks.”
UMD forward Tony Cameranesi: “We came out right away and then we kind of went on the brake pedal. We weren’t ready to play the whole game. Wisconsin is a good team, and you can’t just come out there and expect to win. It’s a team game, and they outplayed us in that category. We just got to do the little things. I think we have to go out there and work hard, get in the corners and do the little stuff. Hopefully the goals will come.”