Gophers tie, beat rivals at home

The two teams got into a fight in the third period of Saturday’s game.

Minnesota Gophers and Wisconsin Badgers brawl on the ice of Mariucci Arena during the third period of the final game in the 24th Annual Mariucci Classic on Saturday. Seventeen out of 28 total combined penalties were given in the third period.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Minnesota Gophers and Wisconsin Badgers brawl on the ice of Mariucci Arena during the third period of the final game in the 24th Annual Mariucci Classic on Saturday. Seventeen out of 28 total combined penalties were given in the third period.

Ben Gotz

Despite a lopsided score, the Gophers’ first series with the Badgers ended with a bang.

There were 15 penalties, a combined eight men in the box, one glove thrown into the stands and an on-ice brawl.

And that was only the last six minutes of the team’s 5-2 victory.

The melee came a day after the teams tied and Minnesota fell in a shootout.

“Now [that] we can’t play North Dakota, this is kind of the No. 1 rivalry,” senior forward Travis Boyd said. “Especially with how it ended, it’s kind of a little bit like a rivalry reborn.”

There was no love lost between the two teams in the game’s final minutes as penalties flew both ways, starting with a scuffle in front of the Badgers’ bench between senior forward Sam Warning and Wisconsin senior forward Joseph LaBate.

Warning and LaBate were both awarded 10-minute misconducts, as was Gophers senior defenseman Ben Marshall, who threw LaBate’s glove into the stands.

The tension culminated after freshman forward Leon Bristedt was hit hard at center ice, carrying the puck with 30 seconds remaining. A brawl ensued as his teammates rushed to his defense.

“I loved the way that we backed each other up and stuck up for our teammates,” redshirt sophomore forward Connor Reilly said. “It just shows we care about each other. Hopefully our team is really coming together.”

Reilly and the Gophers seemed to be falling apart just a day earlier, losing a two-goal lead in the third period.

The Gophers responded Saturday, but the first period was very similar to Friday’s tie.

In each game, with new forward line combinations, the Gophers commanded puck possession throughout and outshot the Badgers handily.

Friday, the Gophers managed 20 shots in the first period to the Badgers’ 3, and Saturday they had 21.

On Saturday, the Gophers made their shots count, exiting the period with a three-goal lead, as opposed to their single-goal lead on Friday.

The Gophers added another goal in the third period and had other chances to add to their lead, including a five-on-three power play in the third period. Despite 49 shots on goal, they were never able to put the game out of reach.

A poor line change near the neutral zone led to a rush the Badgers converted for their first goal, and soon they evened the score.

“What I’m disappointed in is when you’re up by two in the last 10 minutes, and we made just a horrible line change that cost us a goal,” head coach Don Lucia said Friday.

To add even more insult to injury, the Badgers picked up an extra conference point in the shootout.

“Quite frankly, it’s kind of embarrassing,” Boyd said Friday. “Those are points that we need to have.”

The Gophers were able to bounce back Saturday, putting a season-high 50 shots on goal.

“I just think we were hungry on the net,” Reilly said. “[Associate head coach Mike] Guentzel said [Saturday morning], ‘I want you guys to be like piranhas around the net. Get to the net and bury them hard.’”

The Gophers were able to bury a four-game streak in the Big Ten without a win Saturday, and in the process, may have uncovered an old rivalry.

“You always look forward to playing Wisconsin,” Boyd said. “The way the game ended, [we’re] a little more excited to play them now.”

|Check out my blog this week on the team here|

|Watch highlights from the games, shot by Gopher Digital Productions, here and here|