Madison, WI –- All good things must come to an end.
Despite a good effort from the Maroon & Gold, great goaltending from Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel combined with the Badgers' patented brand of opportunistic offense felled the Gophers for the first time since November 24th, 2013. The loss was also the Gophers' first in B1G conference play.
Wisconsin got on the board first, capitalizing on a questionable interference penalty early on the Gophers’ Justin Holl to take the lead. Badger Frankie Simonelli’s shot from the left point squirted under Adam Wilcox’s pads and into the net at 14:47, and give Wisconsin a 1-0 lead.
The Gophers would bounce right back, though, as Kyle Rau forced a turnover behind the Badger net, which led to a Taylor Cammarata one-time goal at 17:20 of the period to tie the game at 1-1, and the first period would end that way.
Both goaltenders were tested in the second period, with Wisconsin and Minnesota trading scoring chances, but Adam Wilcox and Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel were up to the task, both stopping every shot they faced to keep the game tied at one heading into the third.
The Gophers started to tilt the ice in Wisconsin’s direction in the third, dominating the possession and the shots on goal. However, it was Wisconsin that would score late to take the lead in the third. Jake McCabe danced around towards the slot and fired a shot through traffic that beat Wilcox. The goal, at 13:47, gave the Badgers a slim 2-1 lead which they would never relinquish. Minnesota garnered a few more scoring chances late in the third, including a short 27 second powerplay at the end of the game, but they just could not crack Rumpel, and the Badgers would hand the Gophers their first ever loss in B1G conference play.
The teams face off again tomorrow night at 8:00 CST. Tomorrow’s game is the nightcap of the Big Ten Network’s “Frozen Faceoff” coverage, which starts with Michigan State taking on the Ohio State University.
•The Gophers allowed just 19 shots on goal to the Badgers Thursday, tying a season low.
•Minnesota is now 8-3-1 when their opponents score the first goal.
•The Gophers had 32 shots, including a 10-3 margin in the third period.
•Minnesota’s powerplay was 0-4 on the night, Wisconsin was 1-1.
•Minnesota’s 14-game unbeaten streak was broken tonight. The streak, active since November 24th, was the team’s longest since a 22-game streak in the 2006-2007 season.
•My pick for three stars of the game: 1) Joel Rumpel, 2) Jake McCabe, 3) Kyle Rau