Madison, Wisc.–The Gophers had a chance Saturday to extend their winning streak to the longest in over a decade, but let it slip away midway through the second period and lost 5-3 to Wisconsin in front of 14,868 at the Kohl Center.
#7 Minnesota (14-6-2 overall, 6-2-0-0) seven-game winning streak tied Minnesota’s longest since the 2006-07 season and they jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first period with goals coming from Ryan Norman and Mike Szmatula. Don Lucia during his post-game interview with ESPN1500 that the game just kind of lulling along during the second period, not much was going on, the crowd was dead, and nothing was happening in the game. Brent Gates Jr. had a chance all alone in front of the Badger net, but hit the post and that failure to stretch the lead cost them as Wisconsin (11-8-1, 4-2-0-0) started playing with desperation.
“Then they score the one on the wrap around, we turned one over on the half wall and they score from outside and it’s 3-2,” said Lucia. “Then we completely fall asleep on the fourth goal, lined up with a guy and let him win the race to the net. Then the fifth one we just standing around not lifting sticks–that’s on us.”
Wisconsin’s fourth goal came on the power play and broke a streak of 29 straight penalties killed by Minnesota.
Justin Kloos got Minnesota their third goal of the game, his 10th of the season, with under a minute to play, but there was never a sense the Gophers were going to play hard enough defensively to get a lead back. The Gophers were continually beaten to loose pucks starting with the Cameron Hughes goal 10:53 into the second period, and allowed the Badgers multiple chances around the Gopher crease.
“You get what you earn and this is what we earned tonight,” said Lucia.
Lucia thought Minnesota generated enough initial offensive chances, crediting Matt Jurusik for playing well in his 32 save performance, but said his team never got any traffic in front of goal or worked hard enough for secondary scoring.
Ryan Norman in lineup for Connor Reilly was the only lineup change between Friday and Saturday. Lucia said during his ESPN 1500 pre-game that he wanted the flexibility of having another player that could play center with Tommy Novak out of the lineup.
The Gophers face Minnesota-Duluth next Friday to kick off the North Star College Cup, and will face either Bemidji State or St. Cloud State on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in what could be the final weekend of the event in its current format.