You’d understand if Matt Jurusik wanted better memories of playing at the Kohl Center than the last time he was on its ice.
In Jurusik’s final appearance of a two-year career with the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team, he had to be helped to the locker room after injuring his left ankle.
That was March 10, 2017. Since then, the goaltender saw his role with UW diminish, leading him to leave the school and transfer to Michigan Tech.
It worked out nicely for Jurusik that his first appearance with the Huskies was against the Badgers on Friday. He got the better of his old team while his new teammates ran wild on the power play.
No. 14 UW conceded five power-play goals for the first time in more than eight years over the course of a 6-2 loss to Michigan Tech.
“(I was) pumped,” Jurusik said of his opportunity at Kohl Center redemption. “You leave a place and you never think you’re going to play there again. But as the winds of fate decided, I ended up back here. … It was a blast.”
The winds pushed exceedingly hard against the Badgers’ penalty kill, which was outworked by Michigan Tech and allowed five goals for the first time since a 6-1 loss at Minnesota on March 7, 2010.
Three of the scores came during major penalties, the first an early ejection to second-line center Tarek Baker that disrupted the Badgers’ even-strength flow. The final two, in the third period after Sean Dhooghe was called for grasping an opponent’s face mask, nullified UW’s momentum after it had pulled within two goals.
“You can’t play where you’re taking penalties at key situations of games,” UW coach Tony Granato said. “Tonight, that was the case.”
Alec Broetzman scored twice for the Huskies (1-2), and he was one of three Michigan Tech freshmen who scored their first collegiate goals in the first period.
Jurusik left the Badgers in the summer of 2017 when UW added goalie Kyle Hayton as a graduate transfer. He played for the United States Hockey League’s Sioux City Musketeers last season before enrolling at Tech to resume his college career.
He made 25 saves on Friday despite allowing a power-play goal by Seamus Malone on the first attempt he faced. After that one, he was dialed in and looked comfortable.
“You typically want to stop the first one, but if it happens to go in, you’ve got to bounce back for the next couple,” Jurusik said.
As insurance for senior defenseman Peter Tischke, who missed the first two days of practice this week and was walking with a boot on his left foot, the Badgers dressed seven defensemen for the first time this season.
But less than five minutes into the game, they were down a forward after Baker was ejected for a major elbowing penalty. Things spiraled downhill from that point for the Badgers, who were leading 1-0 on Malone’s power-play goal 3:35 into the game.
Baker’s penalty was whistled at the same time as UW’s Ty Emberson was called for tripping, putting Michigan Tech on an extended two-man power play. The Huskies cut into their own advantage with a too-many-men penalty but evened the game during the 4-on-3 portion.
Former Badgers recruit Trenton Bliss, a freshman from Appleton, buried a shot into an empty side of the net after a pass from Seamus Donohue.
Another power-play strike, by freshman Tommy Parrottino, put the Huskies ahead for good after Badgers goalie Jack Berry left a rebound. Broetzman made it 3-1 later in the opening period.
A third power-play goal of the game for the Huskies — by Gavin Gould after a scramble in front of the net — made it 4-1 in the second period.
UW drew within a goal in the third period when Roman Ahcan redirected Wyatt Kalynuk’s shot past Jurusik, giving UW momentum with 14:36 remaining.
But Dhooghe’s penalty for grabbing Broetzman’s face mask during an altercation after the whistle netted the Huskies three more minutes of power-play time after Broetzman’s coincidental roughing minor. They potted two more goals through Jake Jackson and Broetzman to pull away.
At that point, the Huskies were 5-for-6 on the power play. They ended up 5-for-8 after going 0-for-7 in two losses to Minnesota Duluth to open the season.
The Badgers, who fell to 62.5 percent on the penalty kill (15-for-24), weren’t happy with their play at even strength, either. They credited the Huskies for winning races to the puck but criticized themselves for being tentative and flat-footed.
“I don’t think we had the work ethic in all aspects of the game tonight,” Malone said. “They dictated play and we sat back and watched.”
Jurusik and Berry (28 saves) shared an embrace and a fist bump in the postgame handshake line.
“I just told him to keep his head up and keep kicking, and he told me the same,” Jurusik said. “I’ve got a lot of love and respect for him as well as the other guys in that room.”
Michigan Tech 3 1 2 — 6
First period: W — Malone 2 (Weissbach, Kalynuk), 3:35 (pp). M — Bliss 1 (Donohue, Swoyer), 5:45 (pp); Parrottino 1 (Gotz, Ford), 11:31 (pp); Broetzman 1 (Halonen, Ford), 15:27. Penalties: Meek, M, 3:35; Emberson, W, 3:54; Baker, W (major, game misconduct), 3:54; Bench, M, 5:22; Inamoto, W, 9:32; Buckley, M, 15:42.
Second period: M — Gould 2 (Jackson, Lucchini), 8:20 (pp). Penalties: Ess, W, 7:36; Inamoto, W, 17:33; Misiak, M, 17:33; Buckley, M, 17:48.
Third period: W — Ahcan 1 (Kalynuk, Weissbach), 5:24. M — Jackson 1 (Lucchini, Donohue), 13:34 (pp); Broetzman 2 (Halonen, Swoyer), 13:50 (pp). Penalties: Misiak, M, 6:59; S. Dhooghe, W (major), 10:14; Broetzman, M, 10:14; Freytag, W, 19:14.
Saves: M (Jurusik 9-8-8) 25; W (Berry 9-11-8) 28. Power plays: M 5-for-8; W 1-for-4. Att. — 7,730.