No. 1 Wisconsin comes from behind to beat Minnesota

The Gophers gave up two separate two-goal leads.

Forward Nicole Schammel goes after the puck during the Gophers' game against Wisconsin at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017.

Ellen Schmidt

Forward Nicole Schammel goes after the puck during the Gophers’ game against Wisconsin at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017.

Max Biegert

The Gophers did all they could to hang with the best team in the nation, but they could not finish on top. 

Minnesota (20-9-3, 13-7-3 WCHA) lost to Wisconsin (28-3-2, 19-2-2-2 WCHA) 4-3 on the road on Friday night in Madison, Wisconsin. 

The Badgers came back from being down two goals, two separate times to get the victory. Wisconsin’s  Claudia Kepler scored two goals in the third period which resulted in the game-tying and game-winning shots. Senior Sydney Baldwin had two goals, both coming in the first period. Freshman Grace Zumwinkle added a goal in the second period. 

“The No. 1 team in the country did a nice job coming back in front of their home crowd,” head coach Brad Frost said. “We are disappointed we weren’t able to win this one.”

The game-winning goal came from Kepler, who ripped a shot past senior goaltender Sidney Peters with 5:58 left to play in regulation. 

Just 32 seconds into the third period, Kepler scored her first goal of the game during a power play. She charged the net and put the puck past Peters. Wisconsin had the puck in their end of the ice most of the period as the Gopher sufficed 15 shots. The Badgers ended the game with 38. 

“In the third we had some chances there, Wisconsin did a nice job of finding a way to win,” Frost said. 

The second period featured back-and-forth play. Wisconsin twice pulled within one goal. Sam Cogan scored two goals off of rebound shots as Peters could not grab control of the puck and was out of position. 

Cogan scored two minutes into the second period to get the score to 2-1. A minute and a half later, Zumwinkle scored on a slap shot off a pass from Nicole Schammel. Cogan scored her second goal, which made it 3-2 going into the third period. 

Baldwin’s first goal came with nine minutes remaining in the first period after Wisconsin turned the puck over and Taylor Wente gave her a pass for her drive into the back of the net. That was on Minnesota’s second shot of the night. Her second goal came off of a rebound. 

The first round of the WCHA playoffs has been been set, with one game left in the Gophers’ regular season. No. 3 seed Minnesota hosts sixth-seeded St. Cloud State at Ridder Arena next weekend. Wisconsin earns the first-round bye after clinching the regular season title.