Minnesota scores three in third period to defeat Badgers

The Gophers got two goals from captain Tyler Sheehy.

Sophomore defenseman Tyler Nanne blocks Wisconsin forward Ryan Wagner's path on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Ellen Schmidt, Daily File Photo

Sophomore defenseman Tyler Nanne blocks Wisconsin forward Ryan Wagner's path on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Drew Cove

Another game late this season came down to the wire for Minnesota.

No. 12 Minnesota (17-13-1, 8-10-1 Big Ten) took down No. 17 Wisconsin (14-14-3, 8-10-2-1 Big Ten) 4-2 Friday night thanks to some heroics from the captain.

“Those guys I’m playing with, Tom [Novak] and [Brent] Gates, we made two really good plays there,” captain Tyler Sheehy told reporters. “Tom made a great pass and [I] just snuck one in there.”

Sheehy scored two goals on the night, both gave Minnesota the lead. His second of the game, 11th of the season, secured the victory with just under five minutes left in the final period. 

The first goal for Sheehy opened the scoring of the third period and broke the 1-1 tie. He scored just 39 seconds into the third period, and it kept up the trend of having a lot of offensive chances in the game.

Minnesota had a shot advantage for much of the beginning of the game, but as penalties infiltrated the Gophers’ skaters in the second, Wisconsin found its way back. The Badgers won the shot battle 40-39 in a game full of offensive chances.

“We thought there’d be a little stuff after the whistle,” head coach Don Lucia told Gopher Radio Network. “We thought the intensity would be there with both teams and it was. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight.”

There were nine penalties in the game, which resulted from a lot of action going on after the whistle. Tensions came to a peak when Minnesota defenseman Clayton Phillips took a hit in the corner from Wisconsin’s forward Tarek Baker. Gophers’ defenseman Jack Sadek came in to stand up for Phillips and got into a scrum with Baker.

Besides the offense in the game, the defense put in its part to help Minnesota to victory. Apart from defenseman Tyler Nanne missing contact on a puck to clear from the defensive zone that resulted in a Wisconsin goal, Minnesota’s defense held the Badgers’ offense. 

Specifically, goaltender Mat Robson allowed two goals on 40 shots, fulfilling Minnesota’s oft-repeated mantra of goaltenders doing their job if they allow two goals or less in a given game. 

“He’s playing good hockey right now,” Lucia told Gopher Radio Network. “We talk about how quiet he is in the net and he made some big saves tonight to give us a chance to win.”

To secure Minnesota’s victory, forward Darian Romanko added an empty net goal with 1:37 left.

The Gophers got three points in the conference with the win Friday and as another benefit for Minnesota, it kept the Badgers from gaining any points in the Big Ten standings. Minnesota moved up to 26 points in the conference, while Wisconsin remained at 28.

Minnesota sits in fifth place in the Big Ten after Friday’s game, with the ability to move ahead of Wisconsin with a win in Saturday’s game.

Minnesota returns to action Saturday against Wisconsin for the regular-season finale of the border battle at 7 p.m. from Madison, Wisconsin.