Try 1 month for 99¢
UWvMichSt11-01062017221536 (copy)

UW goalie Jack Berry stops the shot of Michigan State forward JT Stenglein in the second perod of the teams' Jan. 6 game at the Kohl Center.

Matt Jurusik and Jack Berry know as well as anyone with the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team that plans don’t always come to fruition.

Jurusik was supposed to get the majority of the minutes in goal this season, using a year of collegiate experience to his benefit.

Berry was due to make some appearances but spend most of his freshman season in the backup role.

For various reasons — injury and inconsistency prominent among them — that hasn’t played out.

As the Badgers start a stretch of eight straight weekend series to close the regular season, the goaltending terms have changed compared to what they were in October.

Coach Tony Granato said Monday he has a good idea who’ll start when UW hosts No. 7 Minnesota on Friday but won’t share that with the goalies until the morning of the game.

Berry and Jurusik, therefore, are on a more equal level than they were at the beginning of the season. Both have started nine games, though Berry has played more minutes.

“It’s given us the option of having two guys that we know can play well,” Granato said.

That notion was reinforced in the most recent games. Berry allowed one goal on 26 shots against Michigan State on Jan. 6; Jurusik stopped 24 of 25 shots a night later to complete the sweep.

A knee injury suffered by Jurusik on Nov. 19 complicated the preseason plans, but by then, Berry had already taken some of the minutes that had been planned for Jurusik.

Berry was called on as an in-game replacement for the sophomore twice in the first seven games of the season. The freshman then got his debut start in the eighth game and earned a shutout against Northern Michigan.

Jurusik suffered the knee injury in his return to the starting spot against Merrimack, then missed the following six games to put Berry in the No. 1 spot again.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs,” Jurusik said, “and this year’s been the same.”

Berry said he’s glad to have Jurusik back in the mix and have things back to a position where they are pushing each other for playing time.

“It definitely was a turn of events,” Berry said. “It was just thrown at me kind of out of the blue. I wasn’t really prepared for it.”

While Jurusik was injured, third-stringer Johan Blomquist even got some ice time — 69 seconds worth at Denver as the Badgers tried to buy time to rest with goalie changes.

With Jurusik back healthy and, he said, having set a better tone for his second half, the decisions on whom to play could be more difficult for coaches.

Not the case, Granato said.

“I think the comfort part is the most important thing,” Granato said. “We’re comfortable with either of them in net.”

Whoever gets the call on Friday will face the nation’s fifth-ranked offense. Minnesota’s 3.8 goals per game ranks just ahead of UW’s 3.61.

From the infirmary

Freshman defenseman JD Greenway, who injured his shoulder in the victory over Michigan State on Jan. 6, should be ready to play against Minnesota, Granato said.

Greenway skated on his own last week and returned to practice Monday.

Kunin gets break

Captain Luke Kunin also took time off from practice during the bye week as he recovered from a demanding stretch of hockey at the World Junior Championship. The sophomore leading goal-scorer practiced only Tuesday last week.

“Getting him a little bit of time away I think will help him in the long run,” Granato said.

Twins commit

The newest pair of oral commitments made Monday fit into a pair of recruiting trends that are emerging.

When Aleksi and Jesper Peltonen accepted offers from UW, they became the third set of brothers known to have committed to UW in the 9½ months since Granato has been coach and the second pair of twins.

They also are the third and fourth Badgers recruits born in Finland.

Forward Aleksi and defenseman Jesper — the 18-year-olds are both 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds — play for Northwood Prep in Lake Placid, New York.

The Peltonens join defensemen Christian and Cole Krygier as twins in the pipeline, with brothers Jason and Sean Dhooghe also committed.Stretch run

The Badgers had a few diversions in their final bye week, a last chance to rest up before an unbroken run of weekend series to close the regular season.

The team went to Chicago last Tuesday to practice at the United Center and take in morning skates and the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings.

They also had a bowling trip last Wednesday before practicing Thursday and Friday.

“It was fun to recharge the batteries after hitting the grindstone pretty hard after Christmas break and getting back into it versus Michigan State,” Jurusik said.


Todd D. Milewski covers Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey and the UW Athletic Department for the Wisconsin State Journal.