Ambroz comes to life against Badgers

Senior forward Seth Ambroz scored four goals in the series against Wisconsin.

by Ben Gotz

Before traveling to face the Badgers, junior defenseman Brady Skjei said a two-win weekend could get the Gophers back on track.

A rapid-fire offensive flurry gave the Gophers (12-9-3) a 7-5 victory Friday night, but the team needed the late game heroics of senior forward Seth Ambroz to leave with a tie on Saturday.

Ambroz scored his fourth goal of the weekend with just two seconds remaining in the third period Saturday, knotting the game at 4-4.

The Gophers needed a quick answer after losing two third-period leads and facing a 4-3 deficit with 1:13 remaining.

Ambroz was able to shoot home a rebound that bounced to his stick in front of the net. But after a scoreless overtime, the Gophers lost a shootout, giving Wisconsin an extra conference point.

“It’s frustrating because we continuously can’t close games,” Ambroz told reporters on Saturday. “That’s been our biggest problem so far this year, and again we were up 2-1 going into the third, and we can’t close.”

Ambroz’s third goal of the weekend gave the Gophers a 2-1 lead in the second period, after Wisconsin redshirt freshman forward Corbin McGuire was called for a five-minute major for kneeing Minnesota redshirt sophomore forward Connor Reilly’s leg.

Reilly, who has had two major knee surgeries in his career and is the team’s leading goal scorer, did not return to the ice. Head coach Don Lucia did not specify after the game the specific location or extent of the injury, but said Reilly was “not good.”

“I’m sure there’ll be some supplemental discipline on that play. If there’s not, I’d be very shocked,” Lucia told reporters on Saturday. “That’s just a bad, bad play.”

Lucia’s displeasure around the hit contrasted his tone on Friday, after several players stepped up in the team’s 7-5 victory.

The Gophers sophomore class scored four goals in the game, with players who are in the midst of cold stretches, like Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching, finding the back of the net.

Two sophomores, forward Vinni Lettieri and defenseman Jake Bischoff, began a four-goal run for the Gophers in a span of 1:40, flipping the score from a 3-1 Wisconsin lead to a 5-3 Minnesota lead.

“It was just sort of crazy,” Bischoff told reporters on Friday. “That definitely felt good for the guys and for the team.”

Both goaltenders struggled throughout the game.

But Ambroz said the offense was happy to pick up a victory for junior goaltender Adam Wilcox.

“He’s been picking us up all year,” Ambroz told reporters. “He’s a warrior and you know, we’re just fortunate enough to come away with a victory and put up seven.”

Ambroz himself picked up the Gophers over the weekend, preventing a split with his last-second goal on Saturday.

The Badgers seem to bring out the best in Ambroz, with 11 of the senior’s 35 career goals coming against Wisconsin, and his four goals over the weekend more than doubled his season total of seven.

“I don’t know, the puck’s just bouncing my way against these guys,” Ambroz told reporters. “I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s just I’ve been getting some great bounces, and it just happens to be against them every time.”

Even if the Gophers still aren’t on track, Ambroz just might be.