Minnesota loses two in Madison

The Gophers were swept in a series for the first time in nearly two years.

Minnesota forward Seth Ambroz skates against Mercyhurst in the Ice Breaker Tournament at Mariucci Arena on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota forward Seth Ambroz skates against Mercyhurst in the Ice Breaker Tournament at Mariucci Arena on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.

Megan Ryan

In a single series, the Gophers men’s hockey team doubled its losses and suffered its first sweep and conference losses of the season.

It was unexpected, to say the least.

No. 12 Wisconsin beat No. 1 Minnesota 2-1 both Thursday and Friday in Madison, Wis., to hand the Gophers their first sweep in nearly two years and snap their 14-game unbeaten streak.

The Gophers are feeling the losses.

“It sucks,” junior forward Seth Ambroz said. “It’s not a good feeling right now, but you’ve got to want to go back to the rink and get better after a weekend like this.”

While the Gophers have some improving to do, they didn’t play terribly. In fact, they outshot the Badgers 32-19 on Thursday and 29-27 on Friday.

Goalies Joel Rumpel and Adam Wilcox played remarkably in the net for their respective teams, but the difference came on the other end of the ice.

“We didn’t produce offensively, and they deserved it,” Ambroz said. “They did all the little things that we didn’t do.”

Minnesota has netted only five goals over the last two weekends — slightly more than one score per contest.

On Thursday, the Badgers struck first on a power-play goal from Frankie Simonelli about 15 minutes into the game. While the Gophers managed to pull even almost three minutes later with a goal from freshman forward Taylor Cammarata, Wisconsin’s Jake McCabe netted the game-winner about 14 minutes into the third period.

Friday’s game followed a similar script, as Grant Besse gave the Badgers the lead with 20 seconds left in the first period. Ambroz leveled the score just more than halfway through the second period on the power play, but Wisconsin again finished the game about five minutes into the third period with a goal from Nic Kerdiles.

Gophers head coach Don Lucia warned of the Badgers’ home-ice prowess heading into the series, and the Kohl Center didn’t disappoint.

“It’s not easy going on the road,” he said. “Wisconsin’s, what, lost two games in this building all season long?”

Ambroz said he agreed, and the series “is what it is.”

“We swept them at home, and they wanted a little revenge back here,” he said.

While Lucia said it’s never any fun to lose, he thought his team played well. But “playing well gives you the chance to win; it doesn’t guarantee the win,” he said.

“This weekend was good for us in the standpoint of a difficult environment, hard-fought games,” Lucia said. “Weekends like this make you better.”