Record Setting Win for Gophers
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) – The No. 19 Gopher Hockey program made it five-straight regular-season conference titles on Saturday night – tying an NCAA record in the process – as Minnesota topped Wisconsin 4-1 in the regular-season finale at Mariucci Arena.
Minnesota has now won three-straight Big Ten regular-season titles after winning two WCHA regular-season titles – matching Boston University’s stretch of five-straight conference championships from 1994-1998. The Maroon & Gold also matched their own Big Ten record with 14 conference wins in the regular season (14 Big Ten victories in 2014-15).
The Gophers (19-16-0 overall, 14-6-0-0 Big Ten) rallied with four-unanswered goals on Saturday night as Leon Bristedt and Justin Kloos led the way with three points each. All four Minnesota goals came in during special situations with a pair of power-play tallies, a shorthanded goal and an empty-net goal as Bristedt scored his second of the night.
After Luke Kunin struck first for the Badgers (8-18-8, 3-13-4-2) in the first period, Bristedt found the equalizer with a short-handed tally at 2:28 of the second period to send the game into the third period knotted at 1-1. The sophomore’s 18th goal of the year was set up by Kloos and Jake Bischoff, who ended the night with a pair of assists.
While the first 40 minutes of play went back-and-forth, the final 20 was all Minnesota.
Hudson Fasching backhanded home his team-leading 20th goal of the season at 4:33 of the second period during a Minnesota power play for the eventual game winner – the junior’s seventh deciding strike of the year (tied for second in the NCAA this season). Kloos then rifled home a power-play goal of his own at 7:39 off a feed from Tommy Novak and Bristedt before Nick Seeler and Fasching found Bristedt for an empty-net tally with 59 seconds left in regulation.
In goal for the Gophers, Eric Schierhorn made 34 saves on 35 shots to pick up his Big Ten-best 19th win of the year (also first among all NCAA freshman and tied for seventh overall in the nation).
The Maroon & Gold also honored the senior class of A.J. Michaelson, Ryan Reilly and Ryan Coyne during the regular-season finale as all three seniors factored into the team’s win including Coyne, who closed out the final minute of regulation in goal. The class joins last year’s seniors as just the second group in school history to win four-straight conference titles in their college careers.
The Gophers will open the 2016 Big Ten Ice Hockey Tournament at Xcel Energy Center on Friday in semifinal action at 7:30 p.m. CT, playing the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between Ohio State and Michigan State.