Badgers sweep Minnesota, send Gophers to fourth straight loss

In the midst of the Minnesota menâÄôs hockey teamâÄôs first four-game losing streak since the 2000-01 season, sophomore netminder Alex Kangas has lost the rhythm that helped him set school records for save percentage and goals against average in a season as a freshman. The Rochester native gave up another five goals Saturday night in a 5-4 loss to Wisconsin that sealed the sweep for the Badgers âÄî the second-straight Western Collegiate Hockey Association series Minnesota has dropped. âÄúAlex is going through what every goaltender goes through, right now,âÄù Lucia said Saturday, one night after Kangas and the Gophers lost 3-2 to open the series. Since opening the second half, the Gophers goalie has given up 35 goals, while the Gophers have fallen from third to ninth in the national rankings. Following this weekendâÄôs sweep, Minnesota (12-9-5 overall, 9-8-3 WCHA) will undoubtedly fall further. The series served as an intersection for two teams moving in the opposite direction. Minnesota has lost six of its last eight games and has been swept in two straight series, which doesnâÄôt sit well with the teamâÄôs captain. âÄúI havenâÄôt lost four games in a row since IâÄôve been here,âÄù junior forward Ryan Stoa said. âÄúItâÄôs definitely frustrating.âÄù Meanwhile, the Badgers, who started the season winless in its first seven games, have won five of its last seven and moved into a tie with Denver for the conference lead with SaturdayâÄôs win. âÄúItâÄôs satisfying to this point. Those young men in [the locker room], they lived through that tough start,âÄù Badgers coach Mike Eaves said. âÄúWe have a quote in our locker room that says âÄòFrom toughness comes character.âÄô We went through the tough times early and were able to respond.âÄù John Mitchell made a big response Saturday after receiving a game misconduct the night before. The 6-foot-5-inch forward opened the game with a goal in the first and tallied the eventual game-winner midway through the third period. Minnesota natives Jamie McBain and Jake Gardiner helped out the BadgersâÄô cause with a collective five points. The only other thing needed was another solid performance in goal by Shane Connelly, who kept the Badgers out front for the second-straight night. âÄúIt was nice to see him come back-to-back,âÄù Eaves said. âÄúHe was sharp all night.âÄù Sharp wasnâÄôt a description for Kangas, who stopped 25 of the 30 shots he faced and gave up a pair of soft goals. After backstopping Minnesota into the NCAA tournament last year with a .930 save percentage, KangasâÄôs numbers have dropped below .900, which might have Gophers coach Don Lucia giving a second look at freshman Kent Patterson. âÄúWeâÄôll talk about that,âÄù Lucia said about the possibility of mixing it up in the crease for next weekendâÄôs home series with Alaska-Anchorage. Scott leaves for USHL As it stands, freshman Grant ScottâÄôs career statistics read: one game, zero points. The Sewickley, Penn. native has left the Gophers and will skate with the Fargo Force in the USHL for the remainder of the season. âÄúThe main thing is: He wants to play, and I understand,âÄù Lucia said Saturday night. Scott is the second freshman to leave the program this year. Michael Dorr transferred to Minnesota State in late December.