Minnesota to take on Wisconsin after disappointing sweep at Michigan State

The Gophers were swept for the second time of the season at Michigan State over the weekend: two 5-3 losses in East Lansing, Michigan.

The University of Minnesota 1979 NCAA Championship Ice Hockey team

Courtesy of the University of Minnesota Athletics Archives

The University of Minnesota 1979 NCAA Championship Ice Hockey team

Jack Warrick

After almost every game — whether it be a win, a loss or a tie — there is usually something a hockey team can take out of that game, no matter how small.

Apparently, there are some exceptions. 

“Crunch it up, throw it in the trash,” Gophers forward Jack Ramsey said about his team’s two losses over the weekend to the 9-12-3 Michigan State Spartans, a team the Gophers beat 7-2 earlier in the season (they lost 4-2 in the other game of the series).

“Didn’t really look like us last weekend, didn’t feel like it. So, tough weekend, moving forward and looking forward to this one [against Wisconsin],” Ramsey said.

The Gophers (9-10-4) are back on campus after over a month of winter break. While they’re starting classes and getting into their normal schedules, they will play Big Ten rival Wisconsin (8-10-4) on Minnesota’s own ice in the upcoming series, hoping to get their skates back under them against a familiar opponent.

“[It’s been] a crazy couple of weeks. Couldn’t have been higher and couldn’t have been lower, so let’s hope the truth is right in the middle,” said head coach Bob Motzko, referring to the sweep over ranked Notre Dame the weekend before losing both games to Michigan State. “You want to get off the break and get back in a routine, and we’re going to be a lot better this weekend than we were last weekend.”

Minnesota played Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin for the first Big Ten series of the season on Nov. 9 and 10. Minnesota split the series. It won the first game 3-2 and lost the second 3-1. Now, Minnesota takes on a Wisconsin team with a similar record, though Wisconsin has lost three of the last four games (the other was a tie), and has yet to win in 2019.

“They’re a pretty young team. They [have] a lot of freshmen just like us and I know a few of the kids playing with them growing up. So they’re a good team and it’ll be fun to see them again,” said Gophers defenseman Ben Brinkman.

Motzko echoed his alternate captain’s belief that the team will be different this time around.

“I was reluctant to use the word ‘turning the corner’ ’til you see it,” Motzko said. “I’m going to tell you we’re going to be good again, and it’ll be this weekend.”

Remembering ’79

Minnesota will honor the 40th anniversary of the 1979 NCAA champion Gophers hockey team at Saturday’s game. It was the third championship of the program’s five current total national championships. The team beat North Dakota 4-3 in Detroit on March 23, 1979 to give then-head coach Herb Brooks his third national championship with Minnesota in a six-year span. Many players on that team went on to play for the United States in the 1980 Winter Olympics to shock the world and win gold.

“I think that’s a very special team in the history of the University of Minnesota,” Motzko said. “The legacy of that group is probably as deep into the hockey fiber of our culture in our state, and pretty special group. It’s going to mean a lot to the community to have them back in the building.”