Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Gophers sweep Badgers, move into tie for 1st place

[media-credit name=’YANA PASKOVA/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]MH_macmurchy_yp_416[/media-credit]The wind has come out of the Badgers' sails as they hit the doldrums of a long NCAA hockey season.

The visiting Minnesota Gophers swept Wisconsin this weekend with 5-4 and 3-1 victories, running up the tally on the Badgers' losing streak to four games.

Saturday's loss had a promising start, as the Badgers got on the board less than four minutes into the game with a Tom Gilbert power play goal. The Badgers dominated the first period, just as they had the third period the night before. They outshot the Gophers 14-3 in the first twenty minutes and blocked four of Minnesota's attempted shots.


"After the first [period] we didn't feel we played very well, but all things considered, only down one, you have to feel pretty good," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said after the game. "Kellen [Briggs] gave us a chance tonight."

Briggs, Minnesota's junior goaltender, got the Gophers out of trouble on several occasions throughout the night. He stopped 31 shots, granting his team many chances to get back into the game.

In the second frame, the Badgers lost some of the gusto that got them their early lead, and the Gophers capitalized with a Ryan Potulny goal. After Badger goalie Shane Connelly initially saved Potulny's shot, he lost track of the puck, which was lodged somewhere in his pads. Potulny managed to poke the rubber in the net and tie the game.

With the game still knotted up in the third, Minnesota finally wore down the Badgers, and two quick goals put the game away.

Sophomore Ben Gordon found himself in a breakaway halfway through the period. Skating in on the left side, he took a wrist shot from the left circle that just missed Connelly's outstretched glove. Less than two minutes later, freshman Phil Kessel took almost the exact same shot, this time blasting through Connelly's legs, and put the Gophers up 3-1.

"I think they came out with a little more jump in the third period than we did, and they capitalized," Gilbert said. "We just couldn't get those bounces."

Head coach Mike Eaves agreed that the Badgers seemed a little flat after the first period.

"I thought early in the game we were getting [to the net] and doing some things," Eaves said. "We just somehow ran out of gas, whether it was emotional or whatever."

One night earlier, the Gophers dug a hole for the Badgers that would eventually prove too deep to escape. Minnesota struck first on Friday, with a goal by Danny Irmen just 1:19 into the game, the first of three on the night for the junior forward.

As would be the case all night, Potulny got the play started with a shot on Connelly. Irmen gathered up the rebound and pounded it in to put Minnesota up 1-0.

Badger freshman Ben Street evened it up later in the period with his sixth goal of the season. With Wisconsin working in the offensive zone, Matt Olinger took a shot that Street redirected underneath Briggs' pads.

But the Gophers answered back with a goal off the faceoff by Alex Goligoski that caught Connelly off guard.

The Badgers were confident going into the locker room only down 2-1 after the first period, but back-to-back goals by Irmen in the second put Wisconsin in a dire situation.

After a goal by Ryan Stoa made the score 3-1, Irmen gained his second goal of the night and then earned the hat trick 21 seconds later when Potulny once again dished the puck to him in front of the net for another score and a 5-1 lead.

"That was the turning point in the game — they scored two goals in one shift," UW senior captain Adam Burish said. "That was the game right there."

"You have to give my linemates a lot of credit," Irmen said of his performance. "Ryan Stoa — he's got forechecking and he's chipping the puck up to us, and Ryan Potulny puts the puck on my tape every time."

With a seemingly insurmountable lead before them in the third period, the Badgers came out with an energy in the third that had been absent all game long. They scored three goals in the first six minutes of the frame and brought the game within one goal.

It was all for naught, however, and the Gophers kept the lead to the end of regulation, handing the Badgers their third straight loss.

"It's a difficult thing to do as an athlete to change the course of your game midstream," Eaves said of the comeback that almost was. "They did a terrific job and it was just simple things that got us going in the third."

In a disappearing act that would make David Copperfield jealous, the Badgers allowed an eight-point cushion in the WCHA standings to vanish in just two weeks. They now sit tied with Denver and Minnesota atop the conference standings at 28 points.

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