Wisconsin skates past Minnesota
Shane Connelly stopped 43 shots, keeping a high-powered Golden Gophers offense off the board early as the Badgers (15-11-3 overall, 12-7-2 WCHA) won in Minneapolis for the first time since December 2005.
„Any goalie will tell you it’s a lot easier to face that much rubber, and when you’re having success you get better,“ Connelly said. „This game was intense the entire 60 minutes. It was awesome.“
The Gophers (12-8-5, 9-7-3) rattled off 11 of the game’s first 12 shots on goal and peppered Connelly early, but were unable to score until late in the game.
„It’s about surviving at that point. They came out and just blasted everything at us,“ Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. „As much as you think you’re ready to play in this building, we were caught watching. Their feet were moving much more than ours but we survived because of Shane.“
Wisconsin appeared to be in trouble late in the first period, as Minnesota dominated play and Badgers forward John Mitchell was ejected from the game for checking from behind. But on the ensuing five-minute penalty, Wisconsin took a 1-0 lead when Jamie McBain’s long-range shot deflected off a Gopher and past goalie Alex Kangas.
Derek Stepan doubled Wisconsin’s lead on the opening shift of the second period, shooting the rebound of a Ryan McDonagh shot past Kangas just 45 seconds into the middle stanza. Play was more even throughout the period, and Wisconsin emerged with a 3-0 lead when Kangas stopped a Michael Davies breakaway, only to see Andy Bohmbach swat in the loose puck.
Minnesota finally got on the board early in the third period when Mike Hoeffel deflected an R.J. Anderson shot past Connelly. It was Hoeffel’s eighth goal of the season. Mike Carman scored to make it 3-2 with 3:32 remaining, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, and Minnesota dominated the closing minutes, but Connelly held them off.
„I thought our guys played terrific tonight,“ said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, as his team’s losing streak grew to three games. „We didn’t have much puck luck tonight but we certainly had our chances. The bottom line is we didn’t score enough.“
It was the fifth loss in seven games for Minnesota, which has seen its hopes for a league title fade in recent weeks.
Kangas finished with 20 saves for Minnesota.