Gopher men’s hockey ties Wisconsin 1-1, Badgers win shootout
The ninth-ranked Golden Gophers men’s hockey team closed their weekend Border Battle at No. 4 Wisconsin Saturday in a 1-1 tie from Kohl Center.
Minnesota (16-7-5 overall, 9-5-4 B1G) battled back from an early deficit to secure a draw against the Badgers (20-6-2 overall, 11-4-1 B1G), but had two goals wiped away via goaltender interference, including one with 2:40 remaining in regulation. The home team earned an extra point in the Big Ten Conference standings via a shootout victory.
It was a spirited start for both sides and the game had an edge of physicality from the opening faceoff. Four minutes into the contest, Mason Nevers corralled a Jimmy Snuggerud pass and nearly snuck a shot past the Badgers’ netminder. The home team got on the board first at the 5:54 mark aided by an extended forecheck and took advantage of a strange bounce in the crease. After falling behind, the Gophers were able to create offensive pressure of their own, but a penalty sent them to the box late in the frame. The visitors blocked six shots during the successful penalty kill and with 29 seconds remaining in the period went to their first man advantage of the weekend, trailing 1-0.
The power play carried into the second stanza before it was erased by the Badgers and Minnesota continued to build momentum. That led to another 5-on-4 chance following a scramble in front of the Wisconsin net, but the Maroon and Gold failed to put any shots on target. A quick 2-on-1 break from Snuggerud and Oliver Moore almost paid off as the Gophers maintained their relentless attack.
On the next shift, Ryan Chesley pulled Minnesota even, 1-1, when his shot from the point slid under the goalie’s pads with 6:10 to play in the period. A challenge by Wisconsin overturned the call and the goal was wiped off the scoreboard. Less than a minute later, the visitors used the negative call as motivation and Jaxon Nelson officially buried the tying goal as the graduate student pounced on a rebound. Bryce Brodzinski started the play by forcing a turnover in front of the Badgers’ net. In the period’s closing minutes, Brody Lamb ripped a shot off the post and had another quality chance using his speed to skate around a defender before the teams went to the locker room deadlocked, 1-1.
Three minutes after the puck was dropped for the final frame, another challenge by the home bench was initiated, but this time was unsuccessful looking for a major penalty. The back-and-forth pace continued, and Minnesota’s veteran line went to work. The trio generated opportunities as Nelson rang a shot off the post and Brodzinski fired a shot from close range, searching for the go-ahead tally. After a Gophers’ rush up the ice was stopped, they were penalized for having an extra player on the ice as the clock hit 7:40 left in regulation. The Maroon and Gold killed off the power play and three minutes later appeared to break the tie as Nevers found the back of the net. The play was stopped for goalie interference and Minnesota’s challenge was to no avail, while the score remained 1-1 and headed into overtime for the second-consecutive night.
It was all Maroon and Gold during the extra session as the visitors fired the only three shots on goal along with a Snuggerud wrister that ricocheted off the crossbar. Neither team could break the tie in overtime, and it was the Badgers that claimed a win in the shootout to finish the weekend with a split.
Close was brilliant in goal again for the Gophers and made 22 total saves, while the visitors peppered the opposing net and held a 43-23 edge in shots on goal Saturday.
Nelson scored his eighth goal of the season, third over the past eight outings, and increased his point total to 18 … Nevers assisted on the opening tally for his seventh helper and ninth point during the campaign … The senior has registered a point in each of the previous four series finales … Brodzinski secured point number 27 for the year with his 14th assist and the fifth-year senior has eight points in his last eight games … The Gophers are now 0-5 when going into a shootout in 2023-24 … Minnesota allowed its opponents to score the opening tally for the first time since Robert Morris (Jan. 12), a span of seven games … The Gophers played in front of a sellout crowd of 15,359 as Wisconsin had its first capacity crowd since 2019 in the highest-attended game of NCAA hockey this season.
Coach Motzko’s Comments
“I love how we played tonight, start to finish,” Minnesota head coach Bob Motzko said. “Our compete level was through the roof. We battled and we withstood a couple little spurts early. I thought we deserved a better fate obviously, but not to be.”
Next Up: Home vs. Penn State (Feb. 9-10)
The Gophers return home to 3M Arena at Mariucci for a B1G series against the Nittany Lions of Penn State Feb. 9-10 sponsored by Affinity Plus.
Courtesy: University of Minnesota Sports Information