Jack Berry photo

Badgers goalie Jack Berry made a career-high 40 saves in last Saturday's victory at Minnesota.


For the second straight season, the goaltending picture for the University of Wisconsin men's hockey team hasn't proven to be as clear as it seemed at the outset.

Last season, it was inconsistency and injury with starter Matt Jurusik that put freshman Jack Berry into the crease.

After All-American Kyle Hayton arrived as a graduate transfer this season, it was expected that he'd be the Badgers' mainstay.

Now, there's some doubt there, and Berry has emerged again from the backup role.

After Berry made a career-high 40 saves in a 3-2 victory at No. 7 Minnesota on Saturday, UW coach Tony Granato said he would discuss the team's goaltending situation with his staff on Monday.

He said Monday that he wasn't ready to divulge what came out of those talks — whether Hayton was still the No. 1 goalie or whether Hayton and Berry would alternate starts.

"When you're in the net of a contending team, you're going to have to battle through some things," Granato said. "Sometimes it's not going to go perfect. Sometimes it's not going to go as well as you want it to, and it's how you react to those situations."

Last Friday, Hayton was pulled from a start for the first time with UW after he allowed five goals on 19 shots in 35-plus minutes. Defensive breakdowns in front of the net didn't help his cause.

He had a career .934 save percentage in 104 starts over three seasons at St. Lawrence but has stopped only 89.2 percent of shots this season.

"I think Kyle is an elite goaltender," Granato said. "He's an ... All-American player that's coming to a new program, that's been very good at times and hasn't really established a rhythm that he probably thought he was going to have, nor that we thought he'd have."

Berry started the season as the primary backup after Jurusik returned to junior hockey in a move that was connected to Hayton's arrival. Like last season, Berry has endured ups and downs in the first half of the season.

While the victory on Saturday was his first start against a ranked team this season, the Badgers are 3-1 when he's the goalie of record. They're 7-6-2 in Hayton starts.

It's fair to say that Berry has made a favorable impression on Granato for his work in the backup slot.

"From a coaching perspective, that's what you have to have, is guys that understand their roles and when they need to be called upon for a big performance, they step up like Jack did on Saturday," Granato said.


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