Minneapolis, MN – Splits aren’t going to cut it.
Needing wins to get back into the race for the NCAA tournament, the Minnesota Gophers (10-11-4 Overall, 7-6-3 B1G) came up one goal short Saturday evening against the Wisconsin Badgers (9-11-4, 5-5-4). In a game that saw four lead changes and four ties, the Badgers had the last laugh, scoring the last two goals of the game to earn the weekend road split at Mariucci.
The teams looked pretty even-up throughout much of the game, but Minnesota looked like they’d start pulling away due to their powerplay prowess. The Gophers scored on their first three powerplays of the game, and finished the day 3 for 5 (6 for 9 over the weekend).
However, Minnesota wasn’t able to score at five-on-five despite many quality chances, and slowly Wisconsin pressed their even-strength advantage as the Gophers couldn’t pull away. The Badgers came back with a goal at 14:49 of the second to tie it at 3-3 and an early third period goal at 4:02 which would eventually be the game winner.
At the end of the weekend, Minnesota slid down into third place in the Big Ten standings with 24 points, five behind leader Ohio State at 29 and one behind second-place Notre Dame. Michigan follows the Gophers with 21 points, while Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin are all tied for fifth place with 20 points.
The PairWise rankings aren’t looking great for the Gophers at this point, either. Minnesota sits in 23rd in the PWR, and needs to jump about 10 teams to feel relatively safe about securing an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Gophers start climbing that mountain this weekend by hosting Michigan. The Friday-Saturday set sees puck drops at 7PM each night. The games can all be seen on FSN, streamed on Fox Sports Go, and heard on AM1130 in the Twin Cities.