Men’s Hockey loses 3-1 to Wisconsin

by Brian Deutsch

Although the Wisconsin men’s hockey team won last night’s contest 3-1, the real winner might be the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League.

Both Minnesota junior forward Blake Wheeler and Badgers freshman forward Kyle Turris were drafted by the pro team, and both recorded points Friday at the Kohl Center.

Turris, who was drafted third overall by the Coyotes in 2007, assisted on freshman defenseman Ryan McDonagh’s first period goal and then slipped the game-winner by freshman net-minder Alex Kangas during a partial breakaway.

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said Turris “relishes big games” such as last night’s and possesses talents that can’t be taught like the way he protected the puck by using his body to block the defenseman on his goal.

Turris was modest about his talents.

“What was going through my head was, ‘Protect the puck,’ ” he said.

Wheeler, the fifth over-all pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, brought his team back to within one late in the second period when he found a hole and put a low backhand under junior goalie Shane Connelly.

The two Phoenix draft-picks saw a lot of each other including the game’s opening face-off.

“We were joking around on face-offs,” Turris said. “I asked him if he was going to let me win this one.”

But the Gophers lost their sense of humor in the third when junior forward Ben Street added a third goal for Wisconsin, and then held off a hectic final minute after Minnesota coach Don Lucia pulled Kangas for the extra-attacker.

Kangas snaps his untarnished record on the road with the loss ñ dropping to 2-1-3 ñ and sending Lucia back to the drawing board for a starter tonight.

Just a few days after the freshman was named the conference’s Rookie of the Week, Lucia said tonight’s starter is to be determined.