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No. 4 Gophers sweep No. 1 Wisconsin

The Badgers three losses this season have all been to Minnesota
Amy Potomak celebrates the winning goal scored against the Badgers in Ridder Area on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019.
Image by Jasmin Kemp
Amy Potomak celebrates the winning goal scored against the Badgers in Ridder Area on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019.

Potomak gets revenge

Both teams went back and forth to start the series off on Friday, the first period of play ended with both teams deadlocked at zero apiece. Sophie Shirley and Maddi Wheeler both had two shots on goal for Wisconsin as they ended the period with 11 goals. For Minnesota, Ella Huber and Savannah Norcross each had the most shots on goal with two each. The Gophers finished the period with nine shots on goal.

In the second period, defense was still the dominant force for both teams as neither team for most of the period could put the puck in the back of the net. The scoreless tie was broken after Madeline Wethington notched her 6th goal of the season with six minutes left in the period. Amy Potomak’s assist on the goal was her 100th career point as a Golden Gopher. Wisconsin finished the period firing 30 shots on goal compared to Minnesota’s 19.

In the third period, the Badgers struck back with a Daryl Watts goal during a controversial five-minute major placed on Potomak for boarding. Grace Bowlby hit the boards hard and was slow to get up, after no call, there was an extended look and Potomak received the harsh penalty which doesn’t disappear after an opposing team goal. Watts’ goal was her 16th of the season.

Potomak responded to her major penalty by giving the Gophers back the lead at a crucial time with 2 minutes remaining. It was her 14th goal of the season as Minnesota would stay undefeated versus their rival this season at 2-0-1. Gophers goalie Makayla Pahl earned 40 saves on the night as the Gophers won 2-1.

“Makayla played great in net,” said head coach Brad Frost. “We did a really nice job of taking away the backdoor and protecting the netfront all night. Amy getting that five-minute penalty and getting the game-winning goal was just amazing.”

Bring out the brooms

The first period on Saturday was a constant back and forth affair. Right out of the gates, Wisconsin’s Brette Pettet scored for the Badgers. That was Wisconsin’s first lead of this series as the puck went through the pads of Lauren Bench who started in place of Makayla Pahl who was out due to an illness. The Gophers answered by a Crystalyn Hengler goal, her third of the season.

To end the first period each team traded off goals, finished by Minnesota taking the lead with Catie Skaja recording her tenth goal of the season. The Gophers led Wisconsin 3-2 at the end of an offensive onslaught by both teams in the first period. The Badgers led shots on goal 14-10.

In the second period, Kennedy Blair and the Badgers defense continued to get pummeled by Minnesota’s forwards. Gophers leading goal scorer Taylor Heise scored her 17th goal of the season as Minnesota took a 4-2 lead. Wisconsin still led in shots on goal 23-19.

Brette Pettet returned to the scoring column in the third period, cutting the Minnesota lead in half to make the game 4-3. The third period was very quiet for Minnesota, only putting up 6 shots on net. Wisconsin could not muster another goal for the rest of the contest as the Gophers would keep their undefeated streak versus their arch-rivals alive.

“Coming into the weekend we knew that Wisconsin’s only loss was to us and they were very deserving of their top ranking,” said Frost. “We wanted to duplicate our success earlier in Madison and bring the pace to them. Overall we wanted to prove to ourselves and see where we are at versus top competition.”

This is Minnesota’s first sweep over Wisconsin since 2016 and the first time Wisconsin has been swept by any team since 2018.

The Gophers travel to Columbus next weekend to play No. 2 Ohio State. Minnesota is 0-2 against the Buckeyes this season and will look to rebound coming off a stellar sweep of Wisconsin.

“Coming out and playing 60 full minutes, sweeping number one in our own house, there’s really no better feeling than that,” said Heise. It proves we can play against any team and the tables have turned in this rivalry.”

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