Gophers Nip Badgers
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) – The Gopher Hockey program kicked off this year’s Border Battle with a 5-4 win against Wisconsin on Friday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Ten different Gophers had at least one point and three had multi-point games as Minnesota opened its Big Ten Conference series against the border rival Badgers with a victory.
Each team lit the lamp in the first, but the Gophers trailed 2-1 heading into to the locker room. Back-to-back penalties against Minnesota gave the Badgers an early 5-on-3 advantage, and Sean Dhooge made good with the extra skaters, crossing a shot into the top right corner of the net at 7:14. Back at even strength, the Gophers quickly had an answer when Mike Szmatula redirected a shot from Brent Gates Jr. at 9:20 for his fifth goal of the season and 100th career point. Scott Reedy collected the second assist on the play. Wisconsin regained the advantage in the closing minutes of the period, as Jason Zirbel banged home a rebound off a Jason Ford shot at 17:21 of the frame.
Four penalties and five goals highlighted the second. The captain scored the equalizer for Minnesota early in the period as Tyler Sheehy tipped in a centering pass from Tommy Novak at 5:13. Joey Marooney earned his first career point on the play, providing the pass up to Novak for the second assist. Rem Pitlick gave the Gophers their first lead of the night at 11:54, assisted by Casey Mittelstadt and Reedy, who had his first career multi-point game with two assists and the eventual game-winning goal.
The penalties racked up late in the second with each team holding a short 5-on-3 edge. The Maroon & Gold were the first to take advantage of the extra skater when Tyler Nanne ripped a one-time shot at 15:19. Minnesota continued to pile on the pressure as Reedy added his third goal of the year and third point of the day. Novak and Ryan Zuhlsdorf added the helpers for both Nanne and Reedy. Before the period was out, Tarek Baker would cut the lead down to two, scoring at 17:09 at even strength. Wisconsin held a 29-22 advantage in shots after two.
In the third, Wisconsin struck on the power play, inching within one at 12:16 thanks to a power-play goal by Trent Frederic. The Badgers pulled their goaltender for the final 1:51 of play, but Minnesota’s defense held them off, escaping with a series-opening victory.
The Gophers chased Wisconsin goaltender Kyle Hayton after he surrendered five goals in 35:36 of action, making 15 saves. Jack Berry stopped each of the nine shots he saw in relief. Eric Schierhorn made 35 stops for Minnesota. The Badgers had 39 shots on the night while Minnesota totaled 28.
Minnesota and Wisconsin will wrap up their Big Ten Conference series Saturday afternoon at 3M Arena at Mariucci, beginning again just after 7:00 p.m.