Gophers lose a close one in first game of border battle

Minnesota and Wisconsin are now tied for first in the Big Ten standings.

Senior forward Vinni Lettieri looks to steal the puck on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers tied 5-5 against the University of North Dakota.

Chris Dang, Daily File Photo

Senior forward Vinni Lettieri looks to steal the puck on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 at Mariucci Arena. The Gophers tied 5-5 against the University of North Dakota.

Drew Cove

The Gophers had more than doubled the Badgers in shots Friday, but it wasn’t enough to lead to victory.

No. 4 Minnesota (20-9-2, 11-4-0 Big Ten) lost to No. 19 Wisconsin (17-10-1, 11-4-0 Big Ten) 3-2 Friday.

The teams are now tied for first in the Big Ten standings.

Odd man rushes for Wisconsin propelled the Badgers to three goals, and the victory.

“We’ve got to try to eliminate some of those mistakes,” said head coach Don Lucia. “We took the too-many men on the ice penalty, it ended up coming back to bite us, but you’ve got to put this one to bed and get yourself ready for tomorrow’s game.”

Minnesota had 38 shots, and two goals by senior Vinni Lettieri, but the pucks just weren’t bouncing Minnesota’s way.

Midway through the third period, Lettieri scored his and the Gophers’ second goal, and that marked the most electric Mariucci Arena was all night.

With an announced attendance of 10,188, the rink was loud, especially when Minnesota was pressing, which was the case for much of the game.

The Gophers outshot the Badgers 38-18, and had plenty of scoring chances, yet they weren’t able to finish at the end of an opportunity.

“Hard fought game,” Lucia said. “I thought our kids had good legs tonight, we had a good effort.”

Captain Justin Kloos and forward Leon Bristedt – in addition to Lettieri – had solid games, showcasing their speed and one-on-one ability.

Lettieri’s first period goal was something to be seen, the senior shot from entirely behind the goal line, and the puck bounced off the back of the Wisconsin goaltender into the net.

Gophers goaltender Eric Schierhorn saved 15 of the 18 shots he saw, but the goals that went in came on odd man rushes, including one on the Minnesota penalty kill.

Minnesota will look to even the series Saturday at 7 p.m.