Droughts snapped, Minnesota’s offense came out of hibernation in front of Kohl Center’s first sellout crowd since 2014.
The Border Battle ended Saturday with the visiting Gophers leaving Madison in dominating fashion with the team’s first true road sweep of the season. With 15,000 fans watching, Minnesota defeated Wisconsin 7-1 Saturday.
“It’s one of those nights where we haven’t had much puck luck all year long with guys scoring goals. Tonight they went in,” said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. “The guys we needed to score scored.”
All four lines scored for Minnesota (18-13-1, 9-10-1-1 Big Ten), whose seven goals were a season high. The Gopher power play, which had been an abysmal 3 for its last 54 attempts over a 13 game stretch, matched that total Saturday.
Mat Robson, making his fifth consecutive start, stopped 23 of 24 shots for the Gophers.
“Our team did a real good job keeping (Wisconsin) to the perimeter and made my job really easy and I feel they made me look really good all weekend,” he said.
Finishing Friday with three third period goals, the Gophers picked up where it left off with Leon Bristedt’s opening minute goal. Playing on a line with Casey Mittelstadt for the first time, Bristedt tapped in a pass for his first non-empty net goal since November 4th.
Brent Gates Jr. and Tyler Nanne added goals on Wisconsin (14-15-4, 8-11-3-1 Big Ten) goaltender Jack Berry, who was pulled 15:38 into the game after making five saves on eight shots.
Friday’s starter Kyle Hayton came in to replace Berry in an effort to get the Badgers going. Trent Frederic cut the Gopher lead to 3-1, but Wisconsin’s offense fizzled out with lost opportunities. The Badgers went 0-7 on the power play. Four of those chances ended by Wisconsin taking penalties.
“Sometimes Senior Night you come out flat,” said Lucia about Wisconsin, who honored its eight seniors Saturday night. “It might have been different had they scored first, but all of a sudden it was 3-0.”
Bristedt wasn’t the only player to snap a goalless stretch. Rem Pitlick entered the second period without one in 12 games. He went to the locker room with a pair under his belt, the second being a potential Sportscenter Top 10 candidate. The sophomore forward batted home a Tyler Sheehy pass from midair.
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Sheehy added his third goal of the weekend in the third period, fooling Hayton on a 2×0 opportunity and roofing a shot past him into the back of the net. Jack Ramsey scored a late power play goal for his second of the season for the extra point.
“We’ve been doing all the right things in my mind,” Robson said. “I think tonight was the culmination of the floodgates opening for our forwards and our D jumping into (the play) as well.”
Minnesota, playing the 3,000th game in program history, moved up to fourth place in the Big Ten standings; a spot that would earn the Gophers home ice in the conference tournament quarterfinals. With two games in hand, the team is three points behind third-place Michigan.
Minnesota hosts Ohio State, who beat top-ranked Notre Dame Saturday 5-1, for two games next weekend at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Friday’s game begins at 8:00 pm and airs on BTN. Saturday’s game is a 4:00 pm matinee airing on ESPNU.
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