Eau Claire, Wis. -- Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire community were the stars, but it was Michael Mersch's extra-attacker goal with just 1:04 left in the second period of the Badgers' two-period scrimmage that finished off a fun-filled afternoon at Hobbs Ice Center. Mersch's Red squad overcame a 3-1 deficit with goals at 17:56 and 18:56 of the final period to make it a 3-3 final score.
Red went on to a 6-3 victory in the shootout in front of 1,093 fans at Wisconsin's season-opening practice.
"We did some good things today," said Head Coach Mike Eaves. "The fact that we had a little practice in the beginning where we got to work on a little power play and penalty kill was helpful. We put ourselves in a game situation and based on what we did in our part-time practices. There were indications [we did some of the things we practiced].
"The biggest thing is that we played at a pretty high tempo today because we had a great atmosphere. The place was packed. It was a fun atmosphere for our guys and we got a lot out of this day today."
White scored on its first two shots of the game, at 3:30 and 7:15 of the first period. Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Minn.) opened the scoring with a shot from the slot after Morgan Zulinick (Kamloops, British Columbia) got the puck through traffic from the point to Barnes.
A pair of newcomers hooked up on White's second goal as Jedd Soleway (Vernon, British Columbia) knocked home a centering pass from Grant Besse (Plymouth, Minn.), who skated behind the Red goal to get the puck in front. Keegan Meuer (Madison, Wis.) also assisted the play.
Red got on the board late in the first period when the pair of locals connected. Jefferson Dahl (Eau Claire, Wis.) finished off a Jake McCabe (Eau Claire, Wis.) pass. Brad Navin (Waupaca, Wis.) earned the second assist.
White regained its two-goal lead when Zulinick beat goaltender Landon Peterson (Oregon, Wis.) after taking a feed from defenseman Gavin Hartzog (Pewaukee, Wis.).
Red then began its rally. Dahl looked like he scored midway through the period to close it to 3-2, but the net came off its moorings and the goal was disallowed.
Red kept the pressure on and finally broke through, beating Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) at 17:56 with its goaltender pulled. Joseph LaBate (Eagan, Minn.) finished off a pass from Nic Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif.)
LaBate then set up Mersch for the game-tying tally at 18:56 to finish off the scoring.
In a dueling shootout where each skater took a shot to finish off the afternoon, Red scored on its first three shots by LaBate, McCabe and Dahl while Meuer, Barnes and Zulinick missed to take a 3-0 lead. Three rounds later, Besse started a rally then Soleway and Matt Paape (Appleton, Wis.) scored consecutively to shootout the game. Frankie Simonelli (Bensenville, Ill.) scored one round later to put Red back up for good. Sean Little (Fond du Lac, Wis.) and McCabe added later goals for a 6-3 Red shootout victory.
Wisconsin, ranked No. 3 in the two major preseason polls, opens official play Friday, Oct. 11 against Northern Michigan at the Kohl Center. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
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