Gophers earn revenge sweep

Minnesota won twice against Wisconsin at Ridder Arena to close its regular season.

Gophers forward Amanda Kessel controls the puck while playing against Wisconsin in Ridders Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Joe Sulik

Gophers forward Amanda Kessel controls the puck while playing against Wisconsin in Ridders Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Emily Polglaze

The Gophers were locked in an overtime tie with Wisconsin on Saturday night when the Badgers turned the puck over in the neutral zone.
 
 
Sophomore forward Cara Piazza fed the puck to sophomore forward Kelly Pannek, who got ahead of the defense. Pannek shot at the top of the net and scored with 54 seconds left in overtime, giving Minnesota a 4-3 victory.
 
 
The goal secured a sweep for the No. 3 Gophers at Ridder Arena after the team blanked No. 2 Wisconsin 4-0 on Friday in front of its best home crowd of the season.
 
 
“There was great resiliency from our team,” head coach Brad Frost said Saturday. “We weren’t perfect tonight. It was more of a classic Wisconsin-Minnesota matchup where both teams were exchanging blows and everybody had chances.” 
 
 
The Gophers (29-3-1, 24-3-1 WCHA) struck quickly with two first-period goals on Friday against Wisconsin’s No. 1 ranked defense, which allows on average less than one goal per game.
 
 
Junior defenseman Megan Wolfe and senior forward Amanda Kessel each scored on Badgers goaltender Ann Renee-Desbiens, and sophomore defenseman Sydney
 
 
Baldwin added another goal in the second period to make the score 3-0.
 
 
Kessel scored again in the third period for her 100th career goal, in front of a season-high crowd of 3,288 fans. She became the fifth player to pass the mark after linemate Hannah Brandt became the fourth earlier this season.
 
 
“I didn’t even know that it was coming up,” said Kessel, who returned to the team three weeks ago. “When they announced it, I was kind of surprised, but it’s just a testament to how good our teams are.”
 
 
Minnesota’s four goals on Friday were the most the Badgers (30-3-1, 24-3-1 WCHA) have allowed to any team in one game all year. Fridayalso marked the third time this season Wisconsin was shutout.
 
 
Senior goaltender Amanda Leveille had a season-high 35 saves and earned her 30th career shutout in the game.
 
 
The Gophers scored twice in the first period again on Saturday, with goals from freshman forward Sarah Potomak and junior forward Kate Schipper.
 
 
Wisconsin scored before the end of the period to make it a one-goal game, and the two teams continued to go back-and-forth. 
 
 
Each team had a second-period goal, and the Badgers had a chance to tie the game with a penalty shot.
 
 
Sophomore forward Annie Pankowski beat Leveille to tie the game. The game went into overtime, where Pannek was able to break away in the final minute to give the Gophers a victory.
 
 
The game mirrored the first one the two teams played this season, when the Badgers won on Dec. 4 with 55 seconds left in overtime.
 
 
The sweep didn’t help the Gophers in the standings, but the team now heads into the postseason on a four-game winning streak. 
 
 
“[We know] that we can face adversity. We can be up; we can be tied and go through ups and downs,” Pannek said. “We can still come out and battle. It’s a huge momentum and confidence builder.”