Milestone moments from forwards Nic Kerdiles and Michael Mersch opened up the Badgers scoring as they cruised to an easy 5-0 win over the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers in the series opener. Thanks to those moments and a clear gulf in talent level between the programs Wisconsin earned their first victory at the Kohl Center this season and improved their record to 3-7-5 (2-5-5 WCHA) on the season.
The two forwards not only sparked the Badgers first home win, they both netted two goals a piece in the win. Mersch is now 2nd nationally with 11 goals on the season. The other goal was sandwiched in between the final goals from Mersch and Kerdiles, coming on a poke in from Sean Little. It was Little's 1st goal of the season.
Kerdiles opened up the scoring with his 1st career goal at the 4 minute mark of the 1st period and Mersch became the 1st Badgers player to double digits in goals as he netted his 10th of the year less than 3 minutes later.
As impressive as the offense was at times it was the Badgers defensive unit that really did the work in this one, holding UAH to just 9 shots on goal for the entire game. On the night the Badgers outshot the Chargers 37-9.
Wisconsin outclassed the Chargers in the offensive zone, holding a 10-4 shots advantage in the 1st period. However, most of that work was achieved in the 1st half of the period as the Badgers seemed to take things a bit too easy the rest of the way.
That resulted in some very dangerous opportunities that included some big time interceptions of attempted cross ice passes and numerous unnecessarily fancy type plays in the neutral zone. It's something Badgers head coach Mike Eaves couldn't have been happy about to say the least.
It was a ho-hum 2nd period for the most part until Mersch knocked home a nice one 14:29 into the period with assists from Derek Lee (11 assists on the year) and Joseph LaBate (3).
Up 3-0 heading into the 3rd and final period the Badgers were determined to finish a game off for a change and they did exactly that, as Sean Little put the game out of reach just 2:51 into the period. The goal was assisted by Eddie Wittchow and Jefferson Dahl.
The final goal and final nail in the coffin of the Chargers came from Nic Kerdiles and was assisted by his line mates Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes. (I don't know about you, but I could get used to hearing those three names on a goal scoreline over and over again.)
Zengerle joined Derek Lee with 2 assists on the night as the offense clicked well for the Badgers overall. After that goal the Chargers pulled starting netminder John Griggs and replaced him for the final 15 plus minutes with Gregg Gruehl who didn't give up a goal and made 5 saves. Gruehl won't be credited with the loss either.
In a nice moment the Badgers allowed freshman Adam Smith, a Wisconsin born kid, get his first taste of game action at the Kohl Center for the final 3:52 of the night. He didn't make a single save in his time in net and combined with Landon Petersen to earn the shutout in goal.
Wisconsin will take on the Chargers in the series finale tomorrow night at 7pm from the Kohl Center. The game can be found on TV via Fox Sports Wisconsin +.