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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Badgers unexpectedly split road series with Gophers

Tyler Barnes got the Badgers on the scoreboard first each night, catapulting Wisconsin’s offense Friday night to a four-goal effort and scoring UW’s lone goal Saturday night on a power play.[/media-credit]

MINNEAPOLIS – The Wisconsin men’s hockey team was primed to play the ultimate spoiler with only one period of hockey left to play in the regular season.

With a 1-0 lead and 20 minutes left to play on the road in Minneapolis, the Badgers (16-16-2, 11-15-2 WCHA) had to keep up their rugged defense and try to hold on to what momentum they had over the WCHA’s conference leader, the No. 4 Minnesota Golden Gophers (24-12-1, 20-8-0 WCHA). But even on the power play, the Badger couldn’t hold back the Gophers.

But after a brawl put the Badgers on the power play – surprisingly late in the game, considering the palpable intensity that filled Mariucci Arena for the entire game – the Gophers’ Erik Haula notched a shorthanded goal 4:47 into the third, making it a tie game.


“[We] definitely had them where we wanted,” junior defenseman Justin Schultz said. “We thought we were getting under their skin and you know, they just needed 20 minutes there. It’s only going to make us better.”

With full rights to the WCHA regular season title on the line for the Gophers – and the MacNaughton cup as a result – sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt gave Minnesota its first lead of the weekend and the game winner at 7:40 into the third.

“It was very similar to what we had in Madison,” head coach Mike Eaves said. “It was a turnover that gave them their first goal and let them back in. … It was good fortune, but you create that by working hard and they worked hard. We didn’t create enough on offense tonight.”

Eagan, Minn., native Tyler Barnes knocked in the Badgers’ lone goal of the game, just more than halfway through the second period.

On Wisconsin’s second power play of the game, Barnes cleaned up a rebound off a Michael Mersch deflection to give the Badgers the initial advantage. The goal was Barnes’ second of the series against his hometown team.

“We played hard together, especially towards the end there,” Barnes said. “We battled through the adversity and got a few opportunities. That’s always good to see.”

Heading into the series, next to nothing was expected of the road-wary Badgers.

Despite riding a three-game win streak, facing off with Minnesota did not bode well for a Badger squad that had only won three road games up to that point in the season.

But Wisconsin didn’t care much for what anyone had to say and gave one of its best performances of the season in game one, pummeling Minnesota, 4-1.

“We played Denver at home a couple Saturdays ago, and that was a pretty complete game,” Eaves said. “This ranks in that area.”

While it was one of the greatest team efforts the Badgers have given this season – perfect on the penalty kill, 2-3 on the power play and solving one of the WCHA’s best goaltenders – the effort can be summed up in the play of a single player: sophomore forward Mark Zengerle.

Zengerle assisted on each of the Badgers first three goals before finally notching his own power play goal singlehandedly at the 15:43 mark of the second period.

On a coast-to-coast affair, Zengerle brought the puck through neutral ice before he slipped it through Gopher defenseman Seth Helgeson’s legs for a one-on-one shot at Patterson, sliding it through the five-hole on the senior goaltender and giving the Badgers an unexpected 4-0 advantage.

“It’s fun to watch,” Barnes said. “He’s got good enough vision that he saw the lane and he took advantage of it. He went down and scored. That’s a fun one to watch.”

Zengerle not only powered the offense but made key defensive plays that kept Minnesota out of sync.

But while the sophomore centerman’s play stood out all night long on both offense and defense, it was Wisconsin’s defense overall that didn’t allow Minnesota much of a chance to even things up.

“We give a hard hat out to who ever played the hardest … and coach Eaves gave it to the defense as a unit tonight,” Zengerle said. “They did a great job. They had a goal at the end which sticks for Joel, but Joel played unbelievable too, he’s right in there with the defensive core.”

Minnesota tested Rumpel often, but he stayed solid, making 26 saves – many through traffic – and just missed out on his third shutout of the season as Gophers’ Nico Sacchetti would score with 1:02 left in the game.

Despite splitting the weekend, the Badgers feel they’re exactly where they need to be going into the playoffs next weekend at Denver.

“This is the way we need to play,” Eaves said. “It’s going to be an environment like this no matter where we go. It’s going to be contested; every race for the puck is going to be like somebody’s trying to steal the bread. This kind of weekend steps it up for us.”

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