Gophers Open Series in Madison With Win
MADISON, Wis. (GopherSports.com) – Team captain Tyler Sheehy scored twice in the third as the No. 12 Gopher Hockey program doubled up No. 17 Wisconsin, 4-2, in this weekend’s Border Battle opener on Friday night at the Kohl Center.
Minnesota (17-13-1, 8-10-1-1 Big Ten) has now won 4-of-5 games overall dating back to Jan. 18 against Michigan State and took 2-of-3 against the Badgers this season. With the deciding goal tonight, Sheehy leads the Big Ten and ranks tied for the NCAA lead with five game-winning goals this year. The team captain also leads Minnesota with 11 goals this season.
The Maroon & Gold had 11 of the first 15 shots on goal in the game, but it would be Wisconsin (14-14-4, 8-10-3-1 Big Ten) that scored first during a delayed penalty to go up 1-0, with Mathew Freytag taking the honors at 12:45. The Gophers would shut them down on the power-play attempt, but could not capitalize on two chances of their own with the man advantage in the period, despite taking a 16-9 lead in shots to the locker room after one.
Minnesota’s defense continued to tell the story early in the second, but it was Brannon McManus stepping up on offense as he deflected a slap shot from Steve Johnson at 1:56 into the period to knot the game at one each. Leon Bristedt also added a helper on the play. Wisconsin had two more chances on the power play in the third, but the Maroon & Gold continued to shut down defensively on the penalty kill.
Once again, the Gophers opened up the third period with an early strike as Tyler Sheehy gave Minnesota its first lead of the game just 39 seconds into the final frame, assisted by Brent Gates Jr. and Tommy Novak. The lead was short-lived, however as the Badgers took advantage of a turnover as Matt Ustaski scored just over a minute later at 2:14 of the third. Sheehy would strike with his second of the game at 15:12 of the third, breaking up the tie late as Gates and Ryan Zuhlsdorf collected the assists.
Darian Romanko tacked on an empty net score with 1:37 remaining to put the game on ice.
Goaltender Mat Robson had a career-high 38 saves in the game, besting his previous mark of 34 around the midway point of the third. The sophomore improved to 5-2-0 on the year. Kyle Hayton made 35 stops for the Badgers. Both teams were 0-for-4 on the power play in the game.
The two teams conclude their Big Ten Conference series Saturday in Madison with an opening puck drop set for 7 p.m. The Gophers return home next weekend to host Ohio State on Feb. 16-17 in the team’s final regular season series at 3M Arena at Mariucci. Tickets are currently available at GopherSports.com, by calling 1-800-U-Gopher, or by stopping by the ticket office at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
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