MADISON, Wis. -- Coming into Saturday night’s game, Minnesota featured the top power play in the WCHA. And Saturday night at the Kohl Center, Wisconsin held the No. 1 Gophers scoreless on four attempts with the man advantage.
It was Minnesota’s full strength attack, however, that netted four goals for the Gophers (10-2-0, 7-1-0 WHCA) in a 4-1 win over Wisconsin (5-6-1, 4-5-1 WCHA), resulting in a series split.
“We knew that after the first night, they were going to come out hard,” sophomore Tyler Barnes said, “It’s a big rivalry game and I’m sure every series one team wins, the other is going to come out. We knew that and tried to weather the storm.”
Minnesota jumped on the board first Saturday, scoring just over six minutes into the game courtesy of a Seth Helgeson goal.
The Badgers evened the game back up 10 minutes later when Barnes (Eagan, Minn.) put the puck on goal with 3:36 remaining in the period.
• The loss was just the third in regulation for the Badgers this season
Junior John Ramage (St. Louis) received a pass across the ice from sophomore Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) before sliding the puck through the crease to a waiting Barnes who put the shot in back door.
The goal extended both Zengerle and Barnes’ scoring streaks to 11 games.
Despite being outshot 12- 4 in the first period, Wisconsin went into the first intermission tied, 1-1.
The next 20 minutes of game play featured a few solid scoring opportunities on both sides, but the teams remained locked at one goal apiece.
With 3:12 remaining in the second period, sophomore Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) was called for contact to the head on a tussle against the near boards. The call resulted in a five minute penalty, as well as a 10-minute game misconduct and Mersch’s ejection.
The Badgers played extremely tight defense for the final 3:12 of the period however, aided by stellar play from freshman goaltender Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan), and the score remained tied 1-1 as the teams headed for the locker rooms.
That defense remained tough for the first 1:48 of the third period, escaping the five minute penalty still tied.
“Actually I think we got some momentum by going out there and killing the penalty,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “We did a nice job. So it’s one of those things in the game where I’m glad it wasn’t a turning point—if anything it gave us some energy.”
With 6:14 passed in the final period however, Minnesota’s Tyler Matson put the puck past Rumpel and the Gophers took a 2-1 lead.
Shortly after the goal, both teams went to the bench for a media timeout. During the break, six members of the Wisconsin football team appeared on the ice carrying Paul Bunyan’s Axe, fresh off a 42-13 win over Minnesota earlier in the day.
The appearance of the trophy sparked an uproar in the Kohl Center and applause from the Badger bench.
Just over six minutes later though, the Gophers struck again, turning an errant Badger pass into an unassisted goal by Nick Bjugstad. Minnesota added a fourth goal on another unassisted play off the stick of Nate Condon. The goal, at the 15:26 mark, pushed the margin to three.
Playing in his third consecutive game, Rumpel notched 29 saves in his first loss at the Kohl Center. He had been 4-0.
“Rumpel was excellent. Excellent,” Eaves said. “He gave us a chance, he held us in there in the first. He was square and he moved great. You can just see it starting to grow for him in terms of his confidence.”
Minnesota’s Kent Patterson recorded 13 saves, as the Gophers outshot the Badgers 33-14.
Wisconsin finished the night 0-3 on the power play.
Schultz kept in mind the positives following his team’s play this weekend.
“I think we definitely learned that we can compete with the top teams in the country,” Schultz said. “Just telling the boys to keep their heads up. It was a tough lose tonight. We’re going to learn from it on film and that’s as much as we can do. We just have to keep working hard in practice and be ready for next weekend.”
The Badgers take to the road next weekend as they visit Colorado College. Friday’s game begins at 8:30 p.m. CT.