Badgers, Gophers skate to bitter tie in series finale

Last night the Badgers were left wanting a 1:40 span of the game back, on Saturday night the Badgers attempted to take the bull by the horns and hang on this time. Sometimes a team is just simply snakebitten, and that’s what the 2014-15 Badgers team has to feel like after Saturday night’s 4-4 tie.

Wisconsin (2-16-4, 0-6-2-2 Big Ten) picked up the extra point after overtime went scoreless and they took the shootout 3-2 in seven rounds.

It was a deserved way to end what was a great, hard fought game between the two bitter Border Battle rivals.

The Badgers literally battled through self-inflicted wounds all night long and came out up 4-3 with 1:13 to play in the final regulation period. UW couldn’t hang on to the lead, as a scramble in front of Joel Rumpel’s net allowed the thorn in Wisconsin’s side — Seth Ambroz — to strike again.

He hit one on the backside of the scramble at the net with just 2.0 left on the clock, making it 4-4 and with that secured overtime and at least one point for the Gophers.

It was a miracle the Badgers were even in the contest late, as they were outshot 42-25 in regulation. Yet, Wisconsin proved it isn’t always quantity, but quality that matters most.

Wisconsin didn’t take long to get on the right foot after Friday night’s disappointing 7-5 loss. In fact, the Badgers tied a program record for fastest goal in a game as Grant Besse was credited with the goal at the :09 mark of the 1st period.

Besse got the original credit for the goal, but it appeared highly questionable as to him actually touching the puck off the shot from Jake Linhart off the right boards. However, it was just the beginning of things for Besse, who clearly loves playing against his home-state team.

After the game the goal was changed to the credit of Ryan Wagner, but it didn’t chance the fact that Besse had a major impact on the game all night long.

Not only did he get the original credit for the opener, but Besse also brought his team back with a 3rd period goal and had a team-high five shots on goal. Besse also scored one of the three made shots during the overtime shootout.

Wisconsin and Minnesota settled down after that stunning opening goal, feeling each other out for most of the first period. However, Wisconsin couldn’t keep the Gophers off the board, with Jake Bischoff slotting one past Joel Rumpel

The Badgers weren’t outmatched in any way throughout the period, as they held a 9-6 advantage in shots on goal. UW and Minnesota also had one power play a piece, with neither offense doing much to trouble the opposing netminder during those power plays.

Wisconsin and Minnesota played it pretty even to end the first period, and began the second much the same. However, UW’s Corbin McGuire cost his team big with a five-minute penalty for kneeing at the 2:59 mark of the second period.

It didn’t take long for the Gophers to capitalize on the long spell with the man advantage though. Justin Kloos faked a shot, passed it to the right face-off circle and Leon Bristedt fired one off the post and right to a waiting Seth Ambroz.

Ambroz was waiting on the doorstep and guided it home easily for the 2-1 advantage at the 4:47 mark of the period. It was his first goal of the night and his third in the series.

However, Besse would become a thorn in the side of his home-state program, tying the game up at 2-2 at the 7:01 mark of the final period. He took an Adam Rockwood pass and fired a one-timer from the middle of the ice right past Gophers netminder Adam Wilcox.

The madness was only beginning though, as UW’s lead was fleeting — as in 30 seconds later fleeting. Christian Isackson answered right back to re-take the lead for the Gophers.

Yet, the Badgers weren’t done battling either. Just under two minutes later the Badgers got a great team play, as Rockwood dropped a back pass to a waiting Kevin Schulze who buried a slap shot past Wilcox and a sudden 3-3 tie game.

The Badgers would complete the comeback with just 1:13 remaining in the contest. Freshman Cameron Hughes picked perhaps the biggest stage to put up his first career goal, doing it against the hated Gophers and possibly netting the game-winner too.

The dream wasn’t to be though, and it was all because of a pesky, but familiar name — Seth Ambroz.

Little did we know Ambroz would do virtually the same thing he did on his first goal to save his team from being the first Big Ten team to lose to the Badgers. Just like earlier, Ambroz would find himself open on the right side of Rumpel with a rebound opportunity from point-blank range.

And just like the first time, Ambroz slotted it home and with it deflated what seemed like Wisconsin’s first victory of the Big Ten slate.

Overtime was uneventful, with the Badgers failing to get a shot on goal and Minnesota putting four shots on netminder Joel Rumpel.

It was a huge night for Rumpel who stopped 42 of the 46 shots he faced on the night.

While the Badgers remain winless, the effort put forth in the series and getting a positive result in the end is something this group can build off of. It’ll need the confidence, as UW face a tough trip to Big Ten title contender Penn State for a Friday-Saturday series 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, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site