Lamb’s goal lifts Gophers over Badgers 2-1 in overtime

Brody Lamb buried the overtime game winner and the No. 9 Minnesota men’s hockey team won the Big Ten Conference series opener at No. 4 Wisconsin, 2-1, Friday night in a Border Battle inside Kohl Center.

The Golden Gophers (16-7-4 overall, 9-5-3 B1G) beat the Badgers (20-6-1 overall, 11-4-0 B1G), the nation’s top scoring defense, at their own game and used a staunch defense to skate to the road victory. Goaltender Justen Close turned away 40 shots, while Oliver Moore had a goal and an assist to pace the offense and extended his point streak to eight games.

The home side generated the first chances of the night in a physical start to the rivalry before Connor Kurth forced a turnover in the Gophers’ offensive zone. The sophomore had his bid erased from inside the slot. Moore broke the ice at the 7:28 mark, taking an outlet pass from Jimmy Snuggerud at center ice that created a 2-on-1. The freshman ripped home the opening tally from his off wing and Minnesota scored first for the sixth-consecutive time. Close helped the visitors retain the advantage with a point-blank save off a turnover in the late stages of the first period and the Maroon and Gold carried the 1-0 edge into intermission.

The Gophers had to fend off an early attack from Wisconsin beginning the second period and Close again stopped multiple chances, including one from the seat of his pants. Minnesota regained control and pushed up the ice where Bryce Brodzinski took a Mason Nevers pass and rang a shot off the crossbar in the middle of the frame. Moore followed up the chance with another great look at goal thanks to a cross-ice feed by Snuggerud. The Badgers turned momentum and forced the Gophers to defend inside their zone, leading to the game’s first penalty with 4:07 remaining in the stanza. Close was the star of the penalty kill, thwarting all five chances, and the margin remained 1-0 in favor of Minnesota.

A rebound chance in front of the goal allowed the home side to pull even, 1-1, just 1:35 after the puck was dropped to start the final frame. With the capacity crowd into the game for the first time, neither side gave an inch to the opposition in what became a battle through the rest of the third period and the game headed into an extra session.

In overtime, Sam Rinzel made a clutch play in his defensive zone where the freshman blocked a shot in the slot. He collected the puck from his knees before pushing it ahead to a streaking Moore, who slid a pass across the slot to the waiting stick of Lamb. The Byron, Minn., product lifted a shot over the goalie’s glove for the winner 62 seconds into overtime.

Close finished the night by making 40 saves, including 21 in the second period alone, and the fifth-year senior made 40 or more saves for the second time this season.