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No. 2 Gophers go the distance vs No. 1 Badgers

Both matches in the two-game series went to overtime.
Image by Emily Urfer
University of Minnesota women’s hockey team lines up before their game against Ohio State in Ridder Arena on Saturday, Nov. 21. The Gophers won in a shut out with an ending score of 4-0.

Badgers take game one Friday with late-game heroics

In the first game of the series against Wisconsin, the Gophers women’s hockey team started much better than in its trip to Madison in January, where they never had a lead in scoring. Minnesota got on the board first with a Madeline Wethington goal and kept that 1-0 advantage going into the first intermission.

In the second period, Grace Zumwinkle got a nice pass from Abbey Murphy to stretch the lead to 2-0. All signs were pointing to a Minnesota victory from a solid start, but the Badgers fought back. With three minutes left in the period, the NCAA points-per-game leader, Daryl Watts, fired in a shot to decrease the Wisconsin deficit to just one going into the second intermission.

Crystalyn Hengler capitalized off a Badgers power play in the third period to return the Golden Gophers lead to two goals. Shortly after, Caitlin Schneider of Wisconsin sniped the puck past the pads of Gophers goalie Lauren Bench to make the game 3-2.

The score stayed that way for most of the period, and it seemed like the Gophers going into the final 30 seconds had the win until Britta Curl made a clutch goal to tie the game at 3-3 with 25 seconds left in regulation.

In the three-on-three overtime, the Gophers ended up falling short to the Badgers, with Watts recording her second goal of the game.

“Obviously, a frustrating result here tonight,” Gophers’ head coach Brad Frost told Gopher Sports. “Our team played a really good game and were solid. To give one up with 30 seconds left there is always difficult. That was our first three-on-three overtime, and we made a mistake with two people going to the puck carrier, and we gave up the three-on-one. Overall, I’m proud of our team, but we’re disappointed in the result of this one.”

Gophers tie 2-2, Wente scores to win shootout Saturday

The second game and final battle between the two border rivals this regular season was the reverse of the first. Wisconsin jumped out to an early one-goal lead in the first period, thanks to Sophie Shirley’s efforts.

In the second period, the Badgers continued to thrive offensively as Maddi Wheeler cashed in to give the Badgers a two-goal lead. Less than two minutes after the Wheeler goal, Abigail Boreen put the Gophers in the scoring column, giving Minnesota momentum going into the second intermission only down one.

In the third period, Zumwinkle found the back of the net, and the Gophers headed into overtime again. This time though, neither team scored, prompting a shootout.

To open the shootout, Minnesota forward Taylor Wente fooled Badgers goalie Kennedy Blair, and that was the deciding factor in a Gophers shootout win as Minnesota goalie Makayla Pahl was ice cold between the pipes, stopping every Badger attempt from getting past her.

“Makayla was great, stopping all three shooters who are incredibly potent,” Frost said.

The game was registered officially as a 2-2 overtime tie in the WCHA standings. The Gophers will take an extra point from the Badgers, though, as a reward for winning the shootout.

“This game was huge for our confidence. We’ve had a tough stretch versus the Badgers the past few years, and last series we played them we got our butts kicked,” Frost said. “This result shows the true resolve and character of our group. To only give up 23 shots on goal today to the No. 1 team in the country is no small feat.”

Up next, the Gophers will face No. 4 Ohio State for the third series between the two teams this season. The Gophers have split each of their series against the Buckeyes for a 2-2 record facing Ohio State on the year.

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