Gophers men’s hockey tie Wisconsin 3-3 in border battle finale, give up extra point

With a 4-1 win on Friday night and a 3-3 tie on Saturday, Minnesota men’s hockey took four of six possible points on the weekend.

Forward Sammy Walker looks to control the puck during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. The Gophers won 4-1.

Sydni Rose

Forward Sammy Walker looks to control the puck during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. The Gophers won 4-1.

Julianna Landis

After recovering from an early Wisconsin lead, Minnesota men’s hockey took the Badgers all the way to a shootout, but couldn’t put away the game-winner, sacrificing the extra conference point in a 3-3 tie. 

Over the weekend, the Gophers took four of the six points possible. The team’s record now sits at 5-6-3 and is fourth in the Big Ten standings.  

The fact that Wisconsin’s Max Zimmer tipped a goal in past Minnesota goaltender Jack LaFontaine to give the Badgers the extra conference point in the shootout seems like a footnote after LaFontaine’s show-stopping performance in the overtime periods. 

Between regulation and the first overtime period, LaFontaine made 33 saves for a .917 save percentage.

“LaFontaine was unreal today, so all props to him for keeping us in it … he’s a really good goaltender,” said forward Bryce Brodzinski, adding that the atmosphere in the building was crazy for his first border battle. 

After falling down 1-0 in the first period, the Gophers scored three unanswered goals. Yet, the lead wasn’t big enough. 

Minnesota native K’Andre Miller completed a third-period comeback for Wisconsin when he scored in the fifth minute to tie the game 3-3. It was the second unanswered goal Wisconsin had scored in the period to take away Minnesota’s two-goal lead, secured with goals from Scott Reedy and Blake McLaughlin, who scored off a slick passing sequence with Brannon McManus while on the power-play. 

The game remained tied through overtime resulting in a tie in the record books. However, the teams played on to decide a winner for Big Ten play. In the shootout, Zimmer was the only goal scorer from either team, resulting in a 1-0 shootout win. 

Along with the dramatic finish, there was both physicality and exciting plays within regulation. Perhaps the biggest play was Brodzinski’s first collegiate goal scored with just 0.2 seconds on the clock to tie the game 1-1 at the end of the first period, responding to the goal Ty Emberson had scored for Wisconsin just two minutes earlier. 

Even though they did give up the extra point in the shootout, head coach Bob Motzko was pleased with how the team performed.

“I’m proud of our guys. It was a great hockey game tonight,” he said. 

Minnesota will continue its home stand against North Dakota next week. The team will face off at 7:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.