Wisconsin completes sweep of top-ranked Gophers

MADISON, Wis. — It was a hard-hitting affair befitting a border rivalry.

And, in the end, the bragging rights resided on the eastern side of the Mississippi River.

Host Wisconsin completed a two-game sweep of top-ranked Minnesota on Friday night in men’s hockey action, as the No. 12-ranked Badgers held on for a 2-1 victory. Badgers star Nic Kerdiles scored the game-winning goal at the 15:27 mark of the third period. That handed Wisconsin (16-8-2 overall, 7-4-1-0 Big Ten) its first sweep of a No. 1 team since 2004 (versus North Dakota).

Wisconsin swept Minnesota at the Kohl Center for the first time since Nov. 12-13, 1999, and the first time overall since Feb. 6-7, 2009.

In the teams’ fourth meeting of the season, Wisconsin jumped out to a 1-0 lead with just 19 seconds left in the opening period Friday, when Grant Besse — a freshman from Plymouth, Minn. — ripped home a goal. Minnesota knotted things at 1-all with a power-play score from Seth Ambroz midway through the second period, but Wisconsin was the aggressor for much of the night.

Wisconsin blocked 17 shots in the game’s opening 40 minutes. The contest’s intense tone was established at the 10:55 mark of the second period, when Wisconsin’s Jake McCabe earned an ejection for contact to the head of Minnesota star Kyle Rau.

Another key in this rivalry contest was the play of Badgers netminder Joel Rumpel, who recorded 28 saves on the evening.

With its loss, Minnesota — which got 25 saves from goalie Adam Wilcox — fell to 19-4-5 overall and 8-2-2-0 in Big Ten action.