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‘This one blindsided us’: Gophers men’s hockey swept at home in Border Battle

Minnesota lost its first game of the rematch 4-1, and was unable to respond in game two, where Wisconsin beat the Gophers 8-1.
Image by Audrey Rauth
Gophers defenseman Jackson LaCombe fist bumps goaltender Jack LaFontaine during player introductions before facing Penn State at the 3M Arena at Mariucci on Thursday, Nov. 19.

Gophers fall Friday in 4-1 loss

Costly mistakes in the third period allowed Wisconsin to quickly gain a three-goal lead on Minnesota, putting the Gophers in a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of. Wisconsin took game one of the home series 4-1.

The goals tallied up quickly for the Badgers after a series of unfortunate events unfolded for Minnesota in the third period. First, a defensive breakdown allowed Wisconsin’s Cole Caufield to sail into the Gophers’ zone and get one past Minnesota goalie Jack LaFontaine to score.

Less than a minute later, Dylan Holloway seized a breakaway opportunity to put the Gophers down by two goals.

LaFontaine played solid in net despite the mistakes that led to the later goals, making 29 saves on 33 shots on goal from the Badgers.

Sammy Walker scored his 10th goal of the season to get Minnesota on the board in the second period, but said the team’s offense lacked intensity.

“I think we need to pressure them more in their own end, and really hound their D,” he said. “We didn’t really have that intensity of getting on them and force them to turn over pucks.”

Gophers stunned 8-1 Saturday

After the loss on Friday, the Gophers thought they needed to be more disciplined in their next game. The start to Saturday’s game was anything but disciplined.

Shortly after Wisconsin’s first goal, Jaxon Nelson laid a heavy hit on Tarek Baker and was called for a major penalty and a game misconduct. A scuffle following the hit also landed Wisconsin’s Dominick Mersch in the penalty box for cross-checking. Holloway converted in the extra power play to extend Wisconsin’s lead.

Sophomore Ben Meyers scored the lone goal for Minnesota before Wisconsin responded with a third goal from Ty Emberson before first intermission.

They scored three more goals in the second, and LaFontaine was swapped out of Minnesota’s net for Jared Moe after Ty Pelton-Byce made it 4-1 in the opening minute. Moe played for the remainder of the second period, making seven saves and allowing two goals.

Justin Close took over the net for Minnesota in the final period, and being able to support him on the ice was one of few good things from the game, Meyers said in a post-game interview.

Wisconsin put two more goals past Close in his time in net to make the final score a lopsided 8-1, and Minnesota’s first seven-goal loss since 1994.

Gophers’ head coach Bob Motzko said that he would need to sleep on the loss before making adjustments to respond in practice this week.

“I want to take 24 hours, watch the film, digest it and then get back to work,” he said. “My first reaction is that we’ve got to keep the ship even-keeled right now.”

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