Gophers Tie Badgers 4-4, and Lose Skills Competition
Madison, Wisc. – The Gopher PairWise Ranking hopes coming into this weekend were slim and none. And despite Seth Ambroz tying the game in the closing seconds, his team couldn’t score in overtime. The Badgers won the shootout for the extra point in the conference standings, but the slim hopes for the PWR left the building as the game goes down as a 4-4 tie for the NCAA.
Minnesota (12-9-3) sits at 19th in the PWR and faces a difficult situation striving for an NCAA tournament at-large bid. The weekend against a youthful Wisconsin (2-16-4) squad was a chance for the team to solve some of it inconsistencies, but instead they gave up nine goals and raised more questions than answers. Also it looks like the team will have to deal with the absence of Connor Reilly from the lineup. He took a knee-on-knee hit from Corbin McGuire early in the second period, and did not return to the game.
Wisconsin took the lead just nine seconds into the game. The Gophers had to retrieve the puck in their own zone off the opening faceoff, failed an exit up the left wing wall, and a quick shot from Ryan Wagner that Adam Wilcox never saw cleanly put them down 1-0.
The Gophers leveled the score 1-1 as Jake Bischoff’s wrist shot from the point found its way through traffic. It was only the Gophers second shot of the game at 7:57 of the first period.
The Gophers got a five-minute power play opportunity early in the second period because of the McGuire kneeing penalty. Minnesota capitalized as Ambroz got his third goal of the weekend at 4:47. Justin Kloos took the puck to the middle of the ice, dished to Ben Marshall coming in from the top of the circle and as his shot came off the pipe, Ambroz pounced for the easy tap in.
Wisconsin tied the game early in the third period. Jack Dougherty pinched low in the zone to help his team maintain possession of the puck on the power play, and then Adam Rockwood laid off the puck to Grant Besse in the slot to score his second goal of the weekend at 7:01
Christian Isackson got his team a 3-2 lead just 30 seconds later as Taylor Cammarata made a nice escape move behind the Badger net to create enough time to find his teammate coming down the middle of the slot for the one-timer.
Wisconsin also responded quickly to tie the game 3-3 at 9:24 as Kevin Schulze one-timed a Rockwood pass to beat Wilcox. Bucky then took a late lead at 18:47 as Cameron Hughes scored his first goal of the season as his shot through traffic just beat Wilcox over the glove.
Minnesota pulled their goalie with less than a minute remaining and Ambroz scored his second of the game at 19:58 converting on a rebound as there was a mad scramble in front of goal.
The scoreless overtime meant another shootout for Minnesota, and despite goals from Kyle Rau and Isackson, the lost their sixth Big Ten skills contest in seven rounds.
The Gophers welcome Ohio State to Mariucci Arena next weekend for a pair of games. Puck drop is at 8 pm on Feb. 7 covered by BTN and 7pm on Feb. 8 covered by FSN+.
GOLDEN NUGGETS: Connor Reilly’s injury was a big focus on Don Lucia’s post-game, he indicated that he’d be shocked if there wasn’t supplemental discipline and he was shocked that McGuire wasn’t thrown out of the game, McGuire then got the game winning shootout goal… The Gophers only dressed 11 forwards Saturday night, and were forced to play with 10 for over half of the game due to the injury.