Lucia earns win No. 300 with weekend split

Minnesota rebounded Saturday after a disappointing game Friday.

by Dane Mizutani

MADISON, Wis. âÄî Subsequent to a disappointing 3-1 loss Friday night to the Badgers, senior forward Jake Hansen didnâÄôt hide his distaste.

Hansen said his team lacked energy from the opening drop of the puck and it was evident throughout the first game of the series.

âÄúThis is a big rivalry and for some reason we didnâÄôt want to come with energy tonight,âÄù Hansen said Friday. âÄúI think a lot of the young guys and even the older guys learn that youâÄôve got to come to play every night. Tomorrow weâÄôll definitely be ready to play.âÄù

Hansen was right.

Minnesota came out with increased focus Saturday night to earn a 4-1 victory and a series split with rival Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.

It was also Don LuciaâÄôs 300th victory as the head coach at Minnesota.

It looked like a different, more inspired team Saturday, contrasting the team that was outworked and outplayed in nearly every facet of the game Friday.

âÄúI was anxious to see how we would respond after losing [Friday] night,âÄù Lucia said

No. 1 Minnesota (10-2-0, 7-1-0 WCHA) responded Saturday with a three-goal performance from its third line âÄî a line headed by senior captain Taylor Matson.

The third line lacked production in the three weeks prior to the weekend series in Madison, but had a hand in three of the four goals Saturday.

âÄúAs a captain you kind of want to lead by example, and itâÄôs just one of those things I take to heart âÄî working hard every single shift,âÄù Matson said.

Minnesota appeared mentally unprepared Friday night and its lack of intensity manifested with a three-goal second period from the Badgers.

Mark Zengerle put Wisconsin (5-6-1, 4-5-1 WCHA) on the board 5:28 into the second period to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead.

Keegan Meuer tacked on the second goal 45 seconds later when he fired a wrist shot over Kent PattersonâÄôs shoulder.

Michael Mersch then added a breakaway goal to stretch the lead to 3-0.

Hansen scored a goal for the Gophers late in the third period, but Minnesota could not make up the three-goal deficit.

âÄúThey did more,âÄù Lucia said Friday of the Badgers. âÄúI think they were more mentally into the game to do the things they wanted to do.âÄù

On Saturday, the Gophers did more.

Minnesota jumped out to an early lead when Matson beat a Badgers defender to the puck and got it to Seth Helgeson at the blue line.

Helgeson ripped a wrist shot from the point that beat Rumpel stick side to give the Gophers their first lead of the series.

Tyler Barnes tied the game 10 minutes later when he netted his sixth goal of the season. Justin RamageâÄôs tape-to-tape pass set up a backdoor shot by Barnes.

In the second period, Mersch was ejected after he made contact with Kyle RauâÄôs head.

Mersch was called for a five-minute major and a game misconduct, but the Gophers could not capitalize on the extended power play. Neither team scored in the second period.

Minnesota took control at 6:14 into the third period when Matson took a centering feed from Nate Condon and beat Rumpel five-hole to put the Gophers back on top.

Nick Bjugstad and Condon added a goal apiece to cushion the lead and preserve the win.

âÄúI felt like we were in more control [Saturday] from start to finish,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúWe played more as a group, instead of individuals.âÄù

Lucia said he contemplated whether or not to switch up his lineup following Friday nightâÄôs loss, but decided against it.

It worked out in his favor.

âÄúWe kind of knew going into this game we had to outcompete this team tonight,âÄù Matson said Saturday.

âÄúWe were kind of down after last night. We didnâÄôt play like we knew we could, so we wanted to come out here and prove tonight that we know we can play like Gophers, and we did.âÄù