VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The first few shifts together as a team in exhibition play weren't pretty for the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team.
Before long, Cole Caufield had a wide smile going and the Badgers had pulled things together.
Caufield and Dylan Holloway, two key pieces of the new-look Badgers who were among the advertised attractions for a pair of preseason exhibitions north of the border, gave a crowd of 912 at Father Bauer Arena what they came to see.
Both freshmen scored a power-play goal in UW's 3-0 victory over British Columbia on Friday.
The Badgers play the Thunderbirds in an exhibition game at Father Bauer Arena in Vancouver.
Jason Dhooghe added a third-period goal, and Daniel Lebedeff made 26 saves for the shutout.
But UBC set the early tone less than 20 seconds after the opening faceoff, when UW first-round NHL draft pick Alex Turcotte was the recipient of a neutral-zone check.
The Badgers initially didn't handle the physical presence of the older Thunderbirds until Caufield scored off a pass from Linus Weissbach on a power play 13:54 into the game, flashing the grin that has become a part of his on-ice calling card.
"I don't think we were quite ready for it," Caufield said of the early hitting. "The first shift, I didn't see it but 'Turcs' getting hit, I just heard it. I knew we were in for one right away."
Holloway, who's expected to be a high-first-round pick in next summer's NHL draft and who drew a large scouting contingent Friday, made it 2-0 in the second period.
Brock Caufield threaded a pass across the zone to Holloway, who slammed the puck home from the right circle.
Coach Tony Granato says college hockey coaches need to show young Canadian players that their route is an option before they commit to major junior teams and nullify their NCAA eligibility.
Holloway had a game-high eight shots and made some good physical plays without the puck.
"I think a couple shifts into game we realized we were a bit faster than them so we just used that to our advantage, and I think it paid off for us," Holloway said.
Cole Caufield, Holloway and Turcotte were among the players featured as UBC created a buzz in Vancouver for an early look at some future NHLers. Turcotte and Caufield were picked in the top 15 of this year's draft.
"Those guys made some really nice plays," Badgers coach Tony Granato said.
It was a big night for the seven Badgers freshmen, all of whom saw time as UW rotated through 16 forwards and eight defensemen. The only players who didn't see time were goalies Jack Berry and Johan Blomquist; Berry is scheduled to start Sunday's second and final game of the series.
Lebedeff displayed composure and tactical proficiency in keeping the Thunderbirds off the scoreboard.
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"I think our whole team played real well together, and it was of course nice to get the win and shutout for myself," he said. "I think the team was pretty hyped up. It's just nice to get the season started."
Freshman Owen Lindmark, who performed well in penalty killing situations, set up Dhooghe's score 2:47 into the third period with a pass out of the right corner.
UW killed all seven Thunderbirds penalties and was 2-for-5 on the power play in a game that turned chippy, with 24 penalties called.
UBC coach Sven Butenschon said his older, stronger players wanted to bring a physicality to the game. But he said he was impressed by what he called a relentless Badgers style without the puck.
All in all, it was a successful night for the Badgers newcomers, who put on the red sweater for competition for the first time.
"Once I pulled the jersey off the hanger, it hit me," Cole Caufield said. "You watch them on TV and stuff. It's kind of cool to put it on for the first time."
Faces in the crowd
In addition to a throng of scouts, former Badgers players, an NHL veteran, a gold medal-winning Olympian and a former NHL player-turned-TV analyst were on hand.
Former UW players Clark Kavolinas (1975-79), Doug Macdonald (1988-92) and Blaine Moore (1990-94) attended. All are from British Columbia.
Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher, a former Vancouver Giants player in the Western Hockey League who trains in the city, also watched.
"I got to meet him at the draft," said Cole Caufield, a Montreal pick who drew interest from Canadiens fans in Vancouver. "He's a great guy. From there, we've texted a little bit."
Wisconsin 1 1 1 — 3
British Columbia 0 0 0 — 0
First period: W — C. Caufield (Weissbach, Miller), 13:54 (pp). Penalties: C. Caufield. W, 8:03; James, B, 12:02; Becker, B, 16:21; Ahcan, W, 16:21.
Second period: W — Holloway (B. Caufield, Ess), 19:44 (pp). Penalties: Pouliot, B, 2:18; Kryski, B, 4:48; Inamoto, W, 4:48; Holloway, W, 5:50; Smart, B, 9:37; Baker, W, 9:37; James, B, 10:20; Turcotte, W, 15:09; Vetterl, B, 18:34.
Third period: W — J. Dhooghe (Lindmark), 2:47. Penalties: Peltonen, W, 4:06; Zimmer, W, 11:21; Kryski, B, 11:50; Benjafield, B, 13:32; Baker, W, 13:32; Vorlicky, W, 14:01; Revel, B (misconduct), 16:28; Sandhu, B, 16:28; Miller, W (double minor, game misconduct), 16:28.
Saves: W (Lebedeff 6-7-13) 26; B (Toth 18-10-7) 35. Power plays: W 2-for-5; B 0-for-7. Att. — 912.