Live Blog: (2) Gophers women’s hockey vs. (8) Wisconsin

John Hageman

 The Gophers head into the biggest game of the year so far, with the puck dropping against (8) Wisconsin at 4:07 p.m.

0:00-Gophers win. Do you believe in miracles?! YES! 1:40-Wow. Kortum to Jones for the beautiful goal. Gophers lead 3-2. 5:08-And there it is, Kelly Seeler knocks in a power-play goal to tie it up. Seeler got control of the puck in the middle of a scrum and was able to muscle it in. 6:50-West gets hit from behind by Nash, who heads to the box for body checking. 9:51-You can tell the Gophers understand the importance of this game. You get the feeling that something’s gotta give and they will score. 14:14-Both teams playing inspired, Wisconsin’s Saige Pacholok heads to the sin bin. 16:50-Gophers get a few rebound attempts, but the bounces aren’t going their way. Still 2-1. So here we are do-or-die, mano e mano, and every other cliche that is relevant here. Just one period left in the regular season. Should be interesting, folks. End of second-Both teams keep the status quo, as the score remains 2-1 in favor of Wisconsin. Just 20 minutes stand between the Gophers and a terribly disappointing end to the season, unless they are able to start putting the puck past McCready. Minnesota did a better job in the second of tightening up in the defensive zone, and limited the Badgers’ breakaway opportunities. They also did a better job of getting the puck to the net themselves, but could not capitalize. The bounces have not been going the Gophers’ way, which may be beginning to frustrate the team. It will be interesting to see how they respond now with the WCHA on the line. 2:25-West gets on a breakaway, but can’t flatten out the puck and loses control in front of the Wisconsin net. 5:03-Maunu heads to the box for hooking on a Wisconsin breakaway. 8:03-Minnesota almost knocks it in during a scrum, but now are on a power play after Wisconsin’s Kelly Nash heads to the box for body checking. 11:23-Gophers get lucky, with a Wisconsin shot banging of the left post. Still 2-1. 12:26-Minnesota has been able to get some shots on the net here in the middle of the period, none of them falling in though. It seems they have found some of that focus and intensity they were lacking last night. 15:57-McCready loses sight of the puck, but the Gophers aren’t able to punch it in. That was probably the best chance Minnesota has had all night. End of first-Gophers head into the locker room down 2-1 and running out of time to salvage a share of the WCHA crown. Wisconsin is out-shooting the Gophers 7-4 in the first, but many of those seven shots have been great scoring opportunities, while Minnesota is not getting very good looks at the net. Much of that has to do with some breakaways and odd-man rushes that the Badgers have had due to some overcompensation by the Gophers in the offensive zone. Minnesota has also avoided early penalties in the first period, with Jalosuo’s tripping call being the only penalty against the Gophers. In other action in the WCHA today, Minnesota-Duluth beat Bemidji State to put pressure on the Gophers to win here today, St. Cloud State and Ohio State went into a shootout, with the Buckeyes winning the shootout. This puts Wisconsin in the position to take the third seed from St. Cloud State should they win here today against the Gophers. 2:16-West and Kyla Sanders collide, Sanders is slow to get up. No penalty. 3:54-Wisconsin takes the lead right back with a great pass in front of the net by Giles to Mallory Deluce. Wisconsin up 2-1. 5:14-Things getting a bit dicey, with loose pucks in front of the Minnesota net. Gophers are finding it difficult to get the puck out of their zone. 7:45-Gophers finally able to squeeze a goal out on the power play, as Anne Schleper winds up from the top of the circle and knocks it past McCready. 1-1. 9:38-Gophers will have a 5-3 advantage for 1:12. 11:32-Minnesota has yet to tally a shot on goal. 13:18-Wisconsin will get a penalty shot as Mira Jalosuo tried to get back on a breakaway, and tripped up the Wisconsin player. Grogan makes a good save to keep the score at 1-0. 18:36-Wisconsin gets the early lead as Jasmine Giles continues to torment the Gophers. Badgers up 1-0.

Technology proved once again why it hates me last night, and I was not able to blog anything from the final period and overtime. A quick recap: The Gophers battled all period to tie the game, and did not do so until Emily West fired a shot from just in front of the blue line with only 16 seconds left to put the game at 3-3. Wisconsin seemed to come out deflated in the overtime period, but was able to slip one past sophomore Alyssa Grogan to give the Badgers the 4-3 win in OT. 

With that defeat, the Gophers come into the final day of the regular season in a tie with Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA standings at 41 points apiece, setting up a must-win game if the Gophers want to have the chance of claiming the crown as the lone champion. 

Wisconsin also clinched home-ice advantage in the first round of the WCHA playoffs last night, with Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, and St. Cloud State joining them as the other top four teams in the conference. Today’s matchups will decide seeding for the tournament. 

 

Last night after the game, Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said his team did not play a full 60 minutes, which he was disappointed in. Indeed, the Gophers did seem to fall into a lull in the second period in which they allowed the Badgers some great scoring opportunities. Grogan held her ground as well as she could have, and was obviously distraught after the final goal went in. It will be interesting to see how the Gophers respond today after such a heartbreaking loss. Today’s game just became a must-win for the Gophers if they want a share of the WCHA crown, as Minnesota-Duluth defeated Bemidji State 3-0. One thing the Gophers will need to do is keep out of the penalty box early. Minnesota had five first period penalties after Sarah Erickson’s early goal. This didn’t allow the Gophers to gain any momentum and add to the lead. Tonight is senior night, with Kelli Blankenship, Alexandra Zebro, Jaimie Horton, Chelsey Jones, Brittany Francis, and Michelle Maunu being honored here before the game with their parents out on the ice to greet them. Starting for the Gophers: #17 Emily West #4 Sarah Erickson #10 Brittany Francis #22 Anne Schleper #20 Alexandra Zebro #31 Alyssa Grogan