Badgers complete sweep of top-ranked Gophers men’s hockey team

No. 1 Minnesota men’s hockey fought back twice to pull even with No. 14/18 Wisconsin before giving up the winning goal with less than three minutes to play in a 3-2 loss Friday night from 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Jimmy Clark scored his first collegiate goal as a Golden Gopher (3-3-0 overall, 0-2-0 B1G) to get his team into a 2-2 tie early in the third period. The visiting Badgers (7-1-0 overall, 2-0-0 B1G) were able to find the late tally, winning their fourth straight.

Minnesota’s energy to start the night led directly to a man advantage two minutes into the action. After winning the faceoff, the home side nearly took the lead, but Jimmy Snuggerud’s one-timer rang off the crossbar. Minutes later, the Gophers went to the penalty box and were still able to generate two quality chances before the guests caught an odd-man break and scored the opening goal at the 6:12 mark on the power play. Without the brilliance of goaltender Justen Close, the game could have turned drastically as the graduate student delivered three point-blank saves to keep it a one-goal game at the first intermission.

The Maroon and Gold were able to sustain offensive zone pressure early during the second period and capitalized 2:57 into the frame. Aaron Huglen skated past a defender and cut into the slot where his wrister found its way to the back of the net, making it a 1-1 tie. Wisconsin pushed back, only to be denied by Close as the game reached the mid-point, until the Gophers went back to the penalty kill. Seconds after the power play was erased, the Badgers got a fortunate bounce around the crease for the go-ahead goal with 7:13 remaining in the period. The home side was unable to convert two chances on the man advantage as the second stanza wound down and trailed 2-1 at the break.

The Gophers came out of the locker room on a mission to get the equalizer and did just that at the 1:55 mark of the final frame. Clark collected a stretch pass from Rhett Pitlick at the blue line and the freshman wired a shot high over the goalie’s glove for his first goal with the Maroon and Gold, bringing the capacity crowd to its feet. With the clock nearing five minutes to play in regulation, Bryce Brodzinski sent a shot past the netminder but like Snuggerud in the first period, it ricocheted off the crossbar. The Badgers countered and scored on a rebound, breaking the tie with 2:31 to play and finished off the road win, 3-2.