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Junior forward T.J. Syner scored his fifth goal of the season for the Minutemen
MADISON, Wisc. - No. 15 Wisconsin used a two-goal first period and two scores from Podge Turnbull to pace the Badgers (11-7-3) to a 5-1 victory over the UMass hockey team on Thursday evening in front of a crowd of 13,171 at the Kohl Center. T.J. Syner scored the lone goal for the Minutemen (3-8-3), while Jeff Teglia made 15 saves through two periods in his first start since November 12. Paul Dainton made 14 saves in relief during the third period. The two teams will square off again tomorrow night in the series finale at 8 PM from the Kohl Center.
The Badgers outshot the Mass Attack 34-19 for the game, including a 12-6 edge in the opening frame. Wisconsin, the nation's second-best power play squad, went 1-for-5 on the man advantage while the Minutemen went 0-for-4. The Badgers also won 30-of-51 faceoffs in the game.
Wisconsin outshot the Minutemen 12-6 and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period as Patrick Johnson put the Badgers on the board just 76 seconds into the game. Wisconsin controlled a faceoff in the UMass defensive zone when Derek Lee skated out of the right corner and fed Frankie Simonelli with a pass at the point. Simonelli settled the puck and threw a low shot on goal that found its way through several skates before Johnson redirected the puck to beat Teglia for Johnson's second goal of the season.
The Minutemen's best chances to level the score came with the Mass Attack on the power play midway through the period. Danny Hobbs and Branden Gracel nearly gave UMass its first goal of the night with a bouncing puck in front of the net, but the Badger defense was able to clear the puck out of harm's way. Conor Sheary had a couple opportunities as the penalty expired, first with a shot that almost beat Gudmandson over the shoulder, and another when Sheary dished to Rocco Carzo in the slot that Gudmandson turned away.
Wisconsin went up 2-0 with 3:32 left in the period on Turnbull's sixth goal of the season. Tyler Barnes began the play when he corralled an airborne puck, got Teglia to commit low across the crease, and skated around the net trying to wrap the puck across the goal line. The initial bid hung in the crease, but Turnbull was there to clean up the mess and give the Badgers a two-goal edge.
Wisconsin continued to apply pressure in the UMass defensive zone in the second period, and the Badgers made it 3-0 on Ryan Little's fourth goal of the season 2:40 into the frame. Justin Schultz received a drop pass below the faceoff dot, and spotted Little positioned in front of the cage. Schultz then fired a pass parallel to the goal line over to Little, who buried the puck past Teglia for the score.
Syner countered with UMass' first goal of the evening four minutes later when he potted his fifth score of the season. Danny Hobbs picked off a pass in the defensive zone and skated into the neutral zone where he fed Syner, who was skating just a few strides ahead. Syner then blew through two Badger defenders for a breakaway and rifled a wrist shot over Gudmandson's blocker.
Wisconsin regained its three-goal edge with 10:07 remaining in the stanza with the Minutemen in the box for a tripping penalty. Simonelli held the puck at the point before skating down the right side and shooting a wrister towards goal. Michael Mersch was screening Teglia just above the crease, and tipped the puck just inside the right post for Mersch's eighth goal of the year.
The Badgers made it 5-1 with 5:55 left in the frame when Turnbull skated into the UMass zone and fired a shot that ricocheted off a UMass stick and past Teglia for his second goal of the night. Chase Langeraap nearly cut into the Wisconsin lead when his shot from in between the hashmarks rang off the post as the period expired.
The Minutemen killed off four Wisconsin penalties during the third period, including a full two-minute five-on-three advantage for the Badgers after Langeraap was assessed a game misconduct for contact to the head. During the five-on-three, Wisconsin consistently put pucks on goal, forcing Dainton to make seven huge saves on the penalty kill. Syner continued to create offensive chances at the other end of the ice following the penalties, the best coming when he fed Hobbs cutting to the net with under six minutes to play in regulation.