Tallackson’s winner a long time coming

Ben Goessling

;Battling criticism is nothing new for the senior, who has spent most of his career with the Gophers trying to live up to demands that he be Minnesota’s next All-American, not just a serviceable forward.

But when Gophers coach Don Lucia moved Tallackson off his normal spot on the second line Friday and moved him to the fourth line against Wisconsin, it was probably as big an indictment of the 6-foot-4-inch forward as any.

So, in a way, it was fitting that Tallackson scored Minnesota’s game-winning goal Saturday, perhaps providing the emotional lift the team has needed since getting swept at home by Colorado College on Jan. 8-9.

“I was in a little slump, but more important, the team was in a slump,” Tallackson said. “I just thought, ‘Time to step up here.’ “

The goal was the kind of play Gophers fans have been waiting four years to watch Tallackson make.

When Gino Guyer chipped a loose puck into the neutral zone, Tallackson raced in to grab it, wheeled around the Badgers’ Jeff Likens with a stiff-arm and tucked a shot between goaltender Bernd Bruckler’s legs with 42 seconds left.

“For a senior (assistant) captain to get the goal is great,” forward Danny Irmen said. “Barry’s a big, strong kid, and he came up big.”

Andy Sertich bagged an empty-net goal to seal a 5-3 Gophers victory, and at the final buzzer, the capacity crowd at the Kohl Center was silenced – save for a few Gophers fans chanting, “Barry, Barry.”

“Good for him,” Lucia said. “It’s nice to see one of our seniors, who’s been fighting to score a goal, make the play.”

Tallackson has been shuffled around as of late, playing on a line with freshmen Evan Kaufmann and Ben Gordon at the Holiday Classic and teaming with seniors Jake Fleming and Jerrid Reinholz on Minnesota’s fourth line Friday.

When Lucia decided before Saturday’s game to move Tallackson back to his normal spot with Guyer on the Gophers’ second line, it wasn’t necessarily because of anything the forward did the night before.

He said he just knew Tallackson needed a chance.

“The bottom line is, he’s got to do it,” Lucia said. “He belongs with Gino on a line, and he has to produce. He did that in a big way tonight.”

It’s unclear at this point what the win will do for Minnesota down the stretch. But for Tallackson, at least, it seems to have parted the clouds.

And if he was indeed the face of the Gophers’ slump, he might also be the face of a resurgence.

“We were a little down (Friday), and we grinded it out,” Tallackson said. “It was a plus to be back with Gino, get that goal and get my game going again.”