It was an exciting game at LaBahn Arena tonight, with No. 1 Wisconsin ( 19-2-2-2 WCHA, 28-3-2) grinding out one of its most gritty wins of the season by a score of 4-3 over the No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers (16-7-3-2, 20-9-3).
Anyone at the rink could tell that there was some old school rivalry bad blood on the ice. Right out of the gate the Gophers were physical, often pushing the boundaries of college checking rules. Minnesota eventually served a penalty 7:46 into the game for a nasty check from behind against the boards by Cara Piazza. But it seemed like Minnesota enjoyed playing the villain tonight, feeding off of the boo-birds in the crowd and opening up the scoring with a goal halfway through the first by Sydney Baldwin. WIsconsin would be given multiple easy scoring chances throughout the first period, but it just couldn’t capitalize on them. Wisconsin’s missed opportunities would keep digging it into a rut, eventually leading to Sydney Baldwin’s second goal of the period 14 minutes in.
Throughout the first, Minnesota looked like it was clearly the better team, bodying Wisconsin on the boards and overall just making the most of its many opportunities. It seemed like Minnesota was going run away with it, but junior forward Sam Cogan had other plans. Two minutes into the second period, Cogan cut the Gophers lead in half with a goal of her own.
But even as the Badgers started to look strong, the Gophers got even better, adding on another goal just a minute and a half after Cogan’s. Minnesota had regained the momentum. Then 10 minutes into the second, Presley Norby went to the box for a tripping penalty. But as the Gophers were pulling away, Cogan found the net yet again for her second goal of the game, putting the Badgers one score from tying it up.
UW came out on fresh ice for the third with a power play, and redshirt senior forward Claudia Kepler rose to the occasion and tied the game just 32 seconds into the final frame. From there on out it was Wisconsin’s game to lose. The Badgers kept the fire burning, creating tons of breakaway chances and consistently putting pressure on Gophers goaltender Sydney Peters. Kepler found twine once again, putting Wisconsin up 4-3 with only a handful of time left. Wisconsin’s constant pressure made those seconds tick off that much quicker for Minnesota, eventually leading to an empty net for the Gophers, who could hardly move the puck out of their own zone, giving the Badgers an impressive comeback victory.
Wisconsin will wrap up the regular season tomorrow back at LaBahn Arena at 3 p.m.