Badgers blown away in 9-2 Border Battle loss to Gophers

Rock Bottom.

There’s no other way to describe what the Border Battle series with the Minnesota Gophers was for Mike Eaves’ Badgers. After getting blanked on Friday night, Wisconsin (4-12-6, 1-7-2-1 B1G) gave up three goals in under six minutes of the first period on Saturday en route to a 9-2 loss at the hands of bitter rival Minnesota (13-10-0, 8-2-0 B1G).

It was all part of a sweep that saw the Gophers outscore the Badgers 13-2 in the two-game series.

After the game, head coach Mike Eaves tried to put this loss in perspective…talking about a 9-2 loss when playing with the Calgary Flames back in 1986, and how they went on to the Stanley Cup Finals that year.

Freshman netminder Matt Jurusik has struggled since starting out solid this season, but his struggles hit a new low along with his team on Saturday night. Jurusik played 52:45 of the contest, giving up eight goals and stopping just 19 of Minnesota’s 30 shots on the night.

It took just 12 seconds in to the game for the Gophers to go ahead, as Hudson Fasching slotted home the very first shot of the game for the visitors.

He managed to give up two goals, with the second coming at the 4:05 mark of the first period. Justin Kloos knocked home the second goal of the night and knocked out Jurusik in less than five minutes of action. Assists went Jake Bischoff and Eric Schierhorn on the Gophers’ goal.

Jurusik would be pulled, with Eaves looking to shake his team awake after a clearly weak start. Eaves turned to the freshman with minimal minutes in net, Adam Miller.

However, his fellow freshman didn’t have much more in the way of success either. After being credited for two saves, Miller couldn’t stand the rush of shots coming his way in quick succession.

Minnesota made it a 3-0 game and 6-0 on the weekend series with a nice goal slotted home by Ryan Norman. Taylor Cammarata and Vinni Lettieri were credited with the assists on the goal at the 5:52 mark of the period.

Things weren’t going to get much better following that, as Aidan Cavallini was ejected for checking from behind and the Badgers would have to kill off a five minute major penalty as well.

Minnesota would continue to take advantage of Wisconsin’s misfortune, slotting home its fourth goal of the night thanks to a pretty easy effort in front of  by Cammarata. It was his second point of the night, but things were far from over.

The Badgers were completely outplayed in the first period, with Minnesota owning the shots advantage.

Wisconsin’s lone bright spot was killing off the remaining 4:34 of the Cavallini major penalty during that first period.

After a chance to regroup, the Badgers fought back against their rivals and netted a pair of goals to get back in the contest during a good-looking second period.

“It obviously wasn’t the start we wanted, but we just had to regroup,” Hughes said of the early deficit. “I thought even in the second period we came out and we had a lot of chances, we played pretty solid. It was tough but there’s not much more you can do.”

UW’s scoring got started off a nice wrister from Cameron Hughes for his second goal of the season. He had it deflect past Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn at the 4:27 mark of the second period.

However, the Gophers weren’t going to let that little goal bother them, netting their fifth of the night in less than five minutes later.

Down 5-1, the Badgers had one last fight in them and scored their final goal of the game just 20 seconds after the Gophers’ fifth of the night.

Naturally, Minnesota native and former Mr. Hockey in the state — Grant Besse — would get involved. He got a great pass from Adam Rockwood at the top of the crease and fired one past Schierhorn.

It would be the last good thing to happen to Wisconsin on the night though.

Adding insult to what was already a wounded animal, the Gophers took care of any hopes UW had in the final period by adding four more goals.

Wisconsin would also have one more player disqualified, as senior Eddie Wittchow was tossed for a hit the head at the 4:14 mark of the third period. Minnesota would net two of their four in the final period during that five-minute 5-on-4 situation.

The first came from Connor Reilly, his third of the season, while Michael Brodzinski netted his second of the night and seventh of the season for an 8-2 lead.

Minnesota would put the cherry on top of one of the most lop-sided series losses in this storied rivalry, putting the final nail in the game with just 55 seconds left.

With UW clearly in serious trouble as a program, they’ll look to right the ship as Alaska comes to what is sure to be a sparsely populated Kohl Center next weekend.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com