Offense rules in Badgers hockey border battle loss
Minnesota (12-9-2, 3-2-2-0 Big Ten) topped Wisconsin (2-16-3, 0-6-1-1 Big Ten), 7-5, in the opener of their Friday-Saturday series at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
The border rivals each came into the series looking to put last weekend's losses behind them, with the Badgers coming off a sweep by Michigan last weekend and the Gophers coming off losses to Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth at the Northstar College Cup.
Minnesota shot first, but Wisconsin scored the first goal in front of a home crowd dressed in white for "White Out at the Kohl Center." Badgers senior forward Joseph LaBate, a 2011 Vancouver Canucks fourth-round draft pick, tipped in that first goal past reigning Big Ten MVP Adam Wilcox, who appeared in his 100th game in maroon and gold.
Gophers senior forward Seth Ambroz soon retaliated with a power play goal, but the Badgers quickly regained the lead with a breakaway goal by freshman forward Matt Ustaski to enter the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.
After Wisconsin sophomore forward Grant Besse's goal early in the second, the Gophers offense seemed to regain some of its early-season promise, firing off four goals in less than two minutes of play, thanks to sophomore forward Vinni Lettieri, sophomore defenseman Jake Bischoff, Ambroz, and freshman forward Leon Bristedt. A late goal by Badgers freshman Jack Dougherty brought the Gophers' lead down to 5-4 at the second intermission.
The Gophers continued their hot play in the third with goals by sophomore forwards Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching. Wisconsin responded with a tally from sophomore forward Jedd Soleway but couldn't overcome the visitors.
Minnesota has fallen from a No. 1 ranking out of the polls altogether, going unranked Monday for the first time since April 2011. This series marks the first time that the Badgers and Gophers have met unranked since Nov. 14-15, 2003.
The teams face off again at 7 p.m. Saturday.