Gophers men’s hockey wins Big Ten Championship 6-4 over Badgers for first title since 2015

A four-goal second period fueled the Gophers past the Badgers in their first meeting in championship history.

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Audrey Rauth

Gopher’s Ben Meyers skates past Notre Dame’s Jake Pivonka toward Notre Dame’s goal in the first period of the match on Saturday, Jan. 19 at the 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Julianna Landis

After coming from behind to win in its first two rounds of tournament play, Minnesota’s role was reversed in the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin, where they fended off a comeback from the rival Badgers to win the title — for the first time since 2015.

Clawing its way back from trailing 4-1 at second intermission, Wisconsin scored two quick third-period goals, halving Minnesota’s lead to 5-3. But just as in their quarter and semifinal games, the Gophers kept their cool, even when Badger forward Cole Caufield scored one more to cut Minnesota’s lead to just one goal with two minutes left in play.

An empty-net goal by Blake McLaughlin sealed the deal for Minnesota to win it, with a final score of 6-4 over the Badgers.

Playing in his first postseason for Minnesota, defenseman Mike Koster kicked off their second-period scoring run just 1:47 into the middle frame. Unfazed by a goal from Caufield, Minnesota tallied three more goals from Brannon McManus, Scott Reedy and Jaxon Nelson.

In the opening period, Minnesota had a chance on the power play early after killing off a penalty called on Sampo Ranta. In the last seconds of that kill, Caufield was called for high-sticking, which sent Minnesota to its own power play after a brief 4-on-4.

Just after the power play expired, McLaughlin scored the first goal of the game with assists from Scott Reedy and Jackson LaCombe.

Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said postgame that he couldn’t be more proud of his team for their performance in the tournament.

“Couldn’t be more proud of our guys. I mean, I’m tellin’ ya, three games in three nights, you know, they don’t do that in the National Hockey League. … we couldn’t have played any better the entire weekend,” Motzko said. “We ran out of a little gas in the third, those were a couple mental mistakes but overall, I think we came in here and earned that championship.”