Gophers men’s hockey blows a two-goal lead, loses to Wisconsin 4-3 in overtime

Senior Sammy Walker tallied one goal and one assist in the loss for the Gophers.

Forward Sammy Walker takes a shot on net at the 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. The Gophers went on to lose 2-5 to the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Kamaan Richards

Forward Sammy Walker takes a shot on net at the 3M Arena at Mariucci on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. The Gophers went on to lose 2-5 to the University of Minnesota Duluth.

by Michael Lyne , Sports Reporter

The No. 5 Gophers men’s hockey blew a two-goal lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to Wisconsin Friday night in their first border battle this season, as they now hold a 5-4 record.

“[We] made too many mistakes tonight,” Gophers head coach Bob Motzko said. “It cost us. There’s nothing more you can say. We hand-delivered a handful of goals tonight. You can’t do that, especially on the road.”

The Gophers held a 3-2 lead heading into the third, but then Wisconsin’s Brock Caufield took over.

He scored the game-tying goal just 2:19 seconds into the period after splitting two Gophers’ defenders and fired a shot from the slot into the lower-left corner of the net to even up the score at 3-3. Then in overtime, he went on to add his second goal of the game to secure the game-winning goal and the win for the Badgers.

The first period between the Gophers and Badgers did not see any goals. However, the game was fast-paced as the shots were square at 13 at the end of the first 20 minutes of play.

The second period was the complete opposite of the scoreless first period as the Gophers and Badgers combined for five goals, three to Minnesota and two to Wisconsin.

For the first 13 minutes of the second period, the Gophers dominated. Senior Sammy Walker opened up the scoring four minutes into the period.

Walker scored from his knees at the bottom of the left circle after gathering a loose puck in front of the Badgers’ net off his rebound. His go-ahead goal marked his fourth of the season as the assists went to freshman Rhett Pitlick (2) and sophomore Brock Faber (5).

With 7:42 remaining in the second, the Gophers extended their lead to 2-0. Senior Ben Brinkman sprung Walker on a 2-1 with senior Blake McLaughlin after sending a bank pass off the boards from their goal line. Then, Walker fed McLaughlin a cross-ice pass from one circle to the other. McLaughlin went on to bury the puck home, marking his third goal this season as Walker tallied his third assist of the season while Brinkman collected his second.

After McLaughlin’s goal, the Badgers quickly had an answer as Corson Ceulemans and Jack Gorniak each scored goals just 21 seconds apart. Ceulemans’ came on the power play, while Gorniak’s was an even-strength goal with 6:03 seconds remaining in the period.

From their two quick goals, the Badgers started to build momentum. However, they quickly killed that when they suffered an own goal with 2:38 seconds remaining in the second period during a Gophers’ delayed penalty.

Liam Malmquist sent a pass from the corner toward the point, but no Badgers’ defenders were in the area, and the puck slowly trickled into their net. Faber was credited for the goal because he was the last Minnesota player to touch the puck.

In the loss, the Gophers outshot the Badgers 47-36. Former Minnesota goaltender Jared Moe made 44 saves, while graduate student Jack LaFontaine had 32 saves.

“Both goalies were excellent tonight,” Motzko said. “But the chances we gave up, oh my goodness, point-blank chances, so we’ve got to clean that up. We’ve got to be a better team in front of him [LaFontaine].”

The Gophers take on the Badgers again on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 8 p.m., as they close out their first border battle series this season and search to split the series. Saturday’s game marks the 300th Border Battle game between the two teams.