Offensive Surge Propels Gophers to 7-5 Victory in Madison
Four goals in 100 seconds during 2nd period put Minnesota up for good
Madison, WI - It wasn't a night for the goaltenders.
In what seems like ages, the Gophers (12-9-2 Overall, 3-2-2 B1G) won a game, and did so with a bit of offensive gusto, scoring seven goals in the process.
That the win came over the lowly Wisconsin Badgers (2-16-3 Overall, 0-6-1 B1G), or that Minnesota also allowed five goals to the struggling home squad, seems of little consequence to a team that desperately needs wins to keep their hopes alive for an NCAA At-Large bid. The Gophers also got goals from some snakebit players, which will hopefully be the shot in the arm they need to really get the season back on track.
Wisconsin struck first, as Joe LaBate's shot snuck through Adam Wilcox's five-hole at 8:04 of the first. Seth Ambroz answered for Minnesota with just one minute left in the period in typical Ambroz fashion - banking the puck off of goaltender Joel Rumpel's leg from behind the goal line on the power play. However, Wisconsin's Matt Ustaski would score on a breakaway right off of a neutral zone faceoff with just eight seconds left in the period to give Bucky a 2-1 lead after one period.
Wisconsin's Grant Besse increased the Badger lead to 3-1 4:13 into the second when his wrist shot slithered through Wilcox and dribbled into the back of the net. The 3-1 lead would be Wisconsin's biggest of the night, but Minnesota pushed back in the middle of the period with four goals in the span of just 1:40 to put the Gophers up for good.
The first one, a Vinni Lettieri tally at 11:00, officially went down as unassisted, but credit to Kyle Rau for creating a turnover and getting a chance that Lettieri buried. After that, the goals came fast and furious. Jake Bischoff notched a goal at 12:01 on a slot rebound after Rumpel made a magnificent save on Sam Warning. Seth Ambroz cleaned up a rebound and stuffed it past Rumpel at 12:27. Leon Bristedt won a hustle battle to the puck to slide a goal underneath the Wisconsin netminder at 12:40.
After the dust settled, the Gophers had turned a two-goal deficit into a two goal lead, and 10 different Gophers had scored points in the process.
What would a period be without an opponent goal in the last minute of play, however. Wisconsin's Jack Dougherty scored at 19:08 to make the game 5-4, and it remained at that score going into the third.
The Gophers put the nail in the coffin with two more quick-succession goals in the third, a Taylor Cammarata powerplay tally and a Hudson Fasching wrister from the slot off of a magnificent Mike Reilly rush. Wisconsin got another powerplay marker at 10:08 to make it 7-5, but that's where the scoring ended.
The win must have given the team some much needed momentum, and although there is plenty of film for the coaches to watch after that five-goal defensive effort, to come from two goals down to a historically stingy defensive team to win the game must be something the players and coaches can enjoy and (hopefully) build off of.
The Gophers and Badgers face off again Saturday evening. The puck drops at 7PM, and the game can be seen on BTN, streamed on BTN2Go, and heard on AM1500 ESPN radio.
Multiple point nights for Gophers: Seth Ambroz (2G-0A), Hudson Fasching (1-1), Jake Bischoff (1-1), Sam Warning (0-2), Travis Boyd (0-2), Brady Skjei (0-2)
Kyle Rau did not register a point in this game somehow, but he was all over the ice creating turnovers and scoring chances
Adam Wilcox made 27 saves on 32 shots
Final SOG: MN 35, UW 32
Minnesota's powerplay finally lit the lamp again tonight, going 2/3. The penalty kill surrendered one goal in five chances.
"Struggling" Gophers that scored tonight: Ambroz (2), Fasching, Cammarata. Still waiting for Kloos to lose his snakebit status.