Badgers, Besse get last laugh against Gophers

MINNEAPOLIS — As a freshman last year, Wisconsin forward Grant Besse might have done a bit too much as he returned to his home state of Minnesota for two games against the Gophers.

The second time around, Besse was a much more confident player.

Besse scored a third-period goal to put Wisconsin on the board, and scored the shootout-winning goal in a 2-all tie to give the Badgers two points in the Big Ten. Friday’s game at Mariucci Arena technically counts as a tie, but Wisconsin gets the extra point in the standings — thanks in large part to Besse, who grew up in Plymouth, Minn., and played his high school hockey at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

"It’s a good feeling," Besse said of playing well in his return to Minnesota. "The better feeling is that we were able to make a comeback."

Wisconsin’s most valuable player Friday, though, was goaltender Joel Rumpel, who stopped 47 of the 49 shots he faced — including 19 of 20 in the first period. The Gophers peppered Rumpel early and often, but the Badgers senior stood tall in net.

Minnesota had plenty of scoring chances in the first period, but only Sam Warning’s goal got past Rumpel in the first. He had answers for every other challenge the Gophers fired his way.

"If we don’t survive that period, it could have been 8-0," Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said. "We knew that Mr. Rumpel would have to do that for us at times."

Despite getting outshot 20-3 in the first period, Wisconsin trailed just 1-0 at the first intermission. Following a scoreless second period, Minnesota’s Hudson Fasching redirected a shot by Jake Bischoff to put the Gophers up 2-0 with 13:09 remaining in regulation.

But the Badgers, who entered this weekend’s rivalry with just two wins all season, battled back. Besse’s goal in the third cut the Gophers’ lead to 2-1 with 8:51 remaining in the third period. Jedd Soleway found room to shoot less than two minutes later to tie the game at two.

With a chance to win it in the shootout, Besse flipped a backhander past Gophers goalie Adam Wilcox to send the Mariucci Arena crowd — except for those who came to see Besse — home disappointed.

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